There is a story, usually attributed to the Native American tradition, which illuminates different ways of paying attention.
An elder, talking to a child, says, I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is fearful, vengeful, envious, resentful and deceitful. The other wolf is compassionate, loving, generous, truthful and peaceful.
The child asks which wolf will win the fight.
The elder responds, the one I feed.
That doesn’t mean we try to deny, or hurt, or kill the angry wolf. If we did that, we’d end up in a long battle, all the while somehow making that wolf more powerful through our hostility and fear. Hating that wolf sucks the strength right out of us. Instead we calmly pay attention to the angry wolf and let go of believing they have the answers. If we can do that, they end up lying down next to us, no longer an enemy.
We help strengthen the kind and loving wolf, giving it nourishment and support so that we can follow it. That peaceful wolf can become our steady companion and show us the way through all different kinds of life experiences.
Restful or chaotic, enjoyable or disappointing experiences may come and go, but we can have a guide with us, through it all.
This is what mindfulness can help you do.
Mindfulness allows us to see our thoughts and feelings as they are beginning. It’s very powerful to know what we’re feeling, as we’re feeling it, know what we’re thinking, as we’re thinking it. With mindfulness, we can choose what will strengthen and bring into action, and we can choose what we will gently let go of. We don’t have to be at the mercy of old habits, or old ways of thinking, or old ways of being.
We are empowered, it just takes practice.
As Narrated by Sharon Salzberg