Cultivating Mindfulness: The Analogy of Two Farmers

Cultivating Mindfulness analogy

The analogy of two farmers is a story explaining how cultivating mindfulness as an open quality of awareness in our everyday life can be of help.  This post is a revisiting of a previous post with the difference that it includes a video and a further reflection on the previous one.  

Mindfulness technique and attitude

In general, the analogy shows how in everyday lives, our actions can reflect in one of two farmers.

We can either get caught in our heads in frustration, thinking of how things might not be going our way and how we might do things differently.  Or similarly to the second farmer, we can cultivate mindfulness by approaching our experiences “with preference”.   

As the definition of mindfulness by Choden and Regan-Addis (2018) reflects,

“Knowing what is happening while it is happening, without preference.”  

by Choden and Regan-Addis

Which has two parts to it, technique and attitude:

  • Technique – “Knowing what is happening while it is happening.”
  • Attitude – “Without preference.”

So, applying the first part of the definition, the technique of mindfulness, “knowing what is happening while it is happening”, by encountering the particular situation we might find ourselves in.   Nevertheless, this is not enough.

Attitude is key

Technique on its own is not enough.  It is the attitude through which we approach the experience that makes the difference.

So, approach situations we find ourselves in with a sense of curiosity, non-judgement, openness and allowing, by acknowledging how a situation might be making us feel and how easy of a human tendency it is to get caught up in frustrations, anger or annoyance. 

By acknowledging how we feel without getting carried away or lost in such feelings.  And doing so can enable us in such a way as to harness the energy in what we call “negative emotions”, to channel them wisely and diligently address the situation we might find ourselves in as the second Farmer did.  So as not to lose sight of the whole situation, without losing sight of the whole field of our experience just as it is.  

Cultivating mindfulness

If we reflect on the actions of the second farmer, it could be said that cultivating mindfulness and the essence of mindful action lies in the fact of genuine appreciation of what we got and the fact that we are alive.  Moreover, it is this appreciation and gratitude that we are alive is what ultimately, will help us act and be more aware of how situations in life make us feel without getting lost in such feelings.

Furthermore, this enables us to respond and not react to situations.  And when we respond with awareness and not mindlessly reach to situations, we end up making choices that not only affect our own lives in a positive manner.  But also the lives of countless others.  As a quote attributed to Victor Frankl, the author of the book “Mans Search For Meaning” says:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

by Victor Frankl

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Choden, & Regan-Addis, H. (2018). Mindfulness-based living course.  New Alresford: John Hunt Publishing.

Frankl, V. E. (2014).  Man’s search for meaning (Reprint ed.).  Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

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