Vulnerability. Some may see it as a sign of weakness. Others have learned to regard it as a true reflection of authenticity (which is taking a beating in our modern world, particularly with the onslaught of social media). The pressure to appear perfect is far greater than ever before...perfectly beautiful, perfectly popular, perfectly accomplished, perfectly creative, perfectly vegan, perfectly stylish, etc. Those are the contrived images that are projected making most, if not all, feel perfectly inadequate.
So how can mindfulness help to combat the perceived social pressures that compromise our authenticity?
When we teach our students mindfulness, we provide them with an opportunity to recognize and accept their feelings, whether deemed “good” or “bad”. We show them that they are worthy of love and acceptance from others, but most importantly from and towards themselves. We use mindful teachings to help students face their fears and reconsider them as “false evidence appearing real” which can be overcome and often does not materialize as imagined. We teach them how failure and mistakes are gifts that provide the best opportunities to learn and to grow, and are nothing to be ashamed of. We impart the understanding that showing up as perfectly, imperfect humans can connect people and break down the barriers that separate us. We give our students the opportunities to build resilience in the form of optimism, positive thinking, coping with change and challenges, and emotional regulation.
Teaching mindfulness is in essence, teaching children how to be vulnerable. In doing so, we are helping to create a society of honest, brave and self-reflective individuals who do not see themselves as better or worse than any other. This is perhaps the key to creating a society where everyone feels a sense of belonging, regardless of inevitably normal flaws, foibles and failings. Could teaching vulnerability through mindfulness be the key to a more compassionate, tolerant and authentic world?