Pooh Bear and mindfulness

03 May 2013 at 15:27

We have, over the years, had the urge to write a little book on Winnie the Pooh and his friends in relation to management, or more specifically the management of Winnie the Pooh characters and their equivalents in an office.  But as they say procrastination is indeed the thief of time and we always wonder as to the originality of the ideas that we have.  But perhaps we are all magpies…

We often reference Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Mental Health First Aid training that we deliver.  We will talk about Eeyore when exploring Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and automatic negative thoughts; the cynical and glum member of the office with whom you must be careful so as not to get sucked into their vortex of despair.  We often say that you can see many of the characters from Winnie the Pooh working within any office environment. Rabbit - anxious and concerned with calculations; Piglet - worried and hesitant; Owl - pontificating and perhaps not as wise as he makes out; Tigger - bouncing in with ‘great’ ideas and then bouncing out again leaving others to manage the chaos; Kanga - calm and matriarchal. We see these characters made flesh in our offices and workplaces; a lot of ‘humans-doing’ rather than ‘humans-being’; but then there is Pooh.

Much has been written about Pooh and perhaps my favourite is Benjamin Hoff’s book ‘The Tao of Pooh’ (followed by ‘The Te of Piglet’). Pooh just is. Holding in his heart the wisdom of the Taoists in his approach to life; to just being.  This also links to the approach of Mindfulness. A key aspect of mindfulness, along with developing an awareness and attention to what is happening within oneself both in mind and body, is that of acceptance.  We see Pooh’s ability to accept his situation in all of the stories (OK, much of what he does revolve around honey and eating!). Pooh never gets bent out of shape over things. Where others fret and worry or consider and plan, Pooh accepts but not with resignation and defeat just with a gentle acceptance of this is how his situation is, in a non-striving, non-judgemental and non-critical way.

When we started our Mindful practice some years ago we struggled with the concept of acceptance. The idea that we would just acquiesce to any challenging situation we felt was wrong; and we were right to feel that way.  Looking back we see that the concept of acceptance that we initially had was misplaced and incorrect.  Mark Williams and Danny Penman in their excellent book ‘Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world’ highlight that the root of the word acceptance comes from the same root as the words ‘capture’ and ‘perception’ and in reality it means to receive or take hold of something. Through acceptance, taking hold of our present experience, we can avoid knee jerk or impulsive reactions to the situations we find ourselves in. Through mindfully accepting we can ‘press the pause button’; become fully aware of the situation we find ourselves experiencing (whether painful or pleasurable) and in doing so find skilful, effective and beneficial ways of responding.  It allows us time; a moment to explore the choices we have in any given situation and not to be a slave to the automatic reactions of an over stimulated mind.  Perhaps we all need to adopt a ‘Pooh bear’ approach to life. As Pooh bear often finds by doing nothing; by observing and accepting the situation he finds himself in for what it is; by being in the present moment a positive solution often presents itself.  As with much of mindfulness and meditative practice it is a simple idea but it is not necessarily easy to do.

Stop, breathe and smile.

Simon and Sandra

Author: Simon and Sandra on 03 May 2013 at 15:27 Comments (0)  

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