Mirabai found herself moving from working on her Ph.D. in a very tumultuous university environment in the midst of the political unrest in the late 19060s. In a search to find another way of being Mirabai began her journey around the world. She began in Europe and started working her way East across the country traveling by land across the Middle East, through the mountains of a very peaceful Afghanistan and Pakistan and eventually found her way to India. She didn’t have a desire to learn meditation, but when she got to India there was a ten-day meditation instruction being offered to westerners for the first time by a Burmese teacher. Having never crossed her legs and meditated this was a very new experience for her. The first three days was just focused on cultivating a one pointed attention, and from there they were then able to begin learning how to direct her attention towards a specified path.
Mirabai ended up taking 3-4 more courses in a row. She thought she would stay for two weeks in India but stayed for two years.
Mirabai started a small company with her husband at the time in the 1970s. Having a small business that lasted about 13 years. It employed around one-hundred people, she was able to experiment with meditation and mindfulness practices as part of her company’s culture. Beginning in 1995, she started bringing mindfulness into corporate America.
Her early perspectives on mindfulness came from a literature background. She was constantly looking to the outside for a deeper understanding. It wasn’t until she began her mindfulness practice in India that she began to build her understanding of herself. Mirabai explained that, “It had never occurred to me to look inside my own mind to understand more deeply the nature of reality.”
“I also saw that by looking at my own mind, first through these practices I could get calm, quiet, and stable enough to be able to look at my own mind. Before that there was so much busyness in there from always trying to take information from the outside and stirring it up… I began to see that we can understand a lot about reality, about inner and outer reality, by simply looking at our own minds.”
Mirabai described her early understandings from her mindfulness practice as an awakening. “I began to see how I was creating a lot of the problems in my life, emotions would arise and I would act on them without recognizing that I had a choice. I was so identified with my thoughts and my emotions… I better get really angry about that, without even thinking ‘I better get angry’, but just immediately having that response of being really angry.” “When your awareness gets refined enough you can begin to sense an emotion like that as a sensation in the body, anger, jealousy, envy, the whole range. You begin to sense it in your body, and then you begin to recognize that.” She then continued to explain that you begin to recognize ti earlier and stopping and returning to a practice of breathing. From that you begin to realize that you are not your anger. “In the moment that you have the choice to act on it or not to act, that gives you a lot of freedom.”
“We are really our awareness, and as we begin to become more familiar with the part of us that is not the thought”. “You are not your thoughts, you have the choice to act on it or not.”
“Mindfulness is very simple, but is not easy to do, because the mind is so busy.” Mirabai continued to explain that we usually use the breath, and even then the mind runs away so quickly. By maintaining a level of patience, and cultivating a sense of non-judging, you may begin to gain much more freedom in your life.
In the workplace Mirabai gave a number of reasons how mindfulness can support and help you through your workday.
We are always moving so quickly at work, mindfulness enables you to pay attention to priorities.I