Mindfully Managing The Full Catastrophe

In his book ‘Full Catastrophe Living’… Jon Kabat-Zinn refers to a line from Zorba the Greek:

‘Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe.’

Life’s full catastrophe in no way refers to life as a disaster, but I would offer that perhaps it may suggest life as we may experience it, full of unexpected tides and currents, could well use the description, the full catastrophe.


For many of us, life’s experiences cast a shadow on how we experience or interpret our lives.

Many of us survive, guided by our deeply ingrained habits. As we become comfortably

accustomed, unconsciously to living on ‘auto-pilot, we remain rooted in our habits.

It is when we become uncomfortable living on auto-pilot that we might begin to search for an alternative means for enhanced wellbeing. Recognizing the need to transform and manage the various states of suffering we may experience, is what the practice of mindful awareness and mindful acceptance offers.

I have met many people on a similar journey as I, and what resonated with me during our sharing, is that we seem to have been stuck in a trance. A self-limiting trance.

I would like to introduce the Two Wings of Awareness: Wisdom and Compassion.

1. Wisdom - When we choose to pause, to offer a self-compassionate inquiry into the matters of heart, mind, and body, ‘the full catastrophe’, we are able to recognize and acknowledge our difficult experiences and this offers us the opportunity, to introduce transformational practices which can allow us to consciously choose beneficially enhancing mindfulness-based practices.

2. Compassion - Is one of the most important forms of kindness that we very rarely offer to

ourselves, especially during times of difficult experiences. Often referred to as embodied self tenderness, self-compassion allows us to work through our difficult emotions and situations

with curiosity and care.

As we sift through and process the various layers or states of our mind, body, and heart, we can awaken to discover for ourselves, the life that is right here, no longer hidden beneath the layers of suffering.

According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., “There are two wings that enable the great bird to fly.”

Mindfulness-based practices can introduce us to self-enriching and self-transformational

practices which can be the pathway of choice offering us improved skills in order to mindfully

manage the full catastrophe….

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