Grandmother mind

One of the aspirations in Buddhist thought is to acquire what is called “grandmother mind.” Grandmother mind is the idea that you love unconditionally, guide and direct without judgment, share your wisdom, and accept all people with an affectionate understanding, (even when you do not collude with their conditioning or stories). Just like it sounds, grandmother mind is an indulgent, fearless interest in other people and the world.

So much of our current world is hurried, distracted, goal oriented, and fear-driven. We lose our connection with what matters to us in the busy-ness of our everyday lives. Of course, we do have to attend to the management of our lives, but we also need to attend to the quality of our time. The ongoing wish to return to “grandmother mind” is one way to keep the depth that makes our lives meaningful.

The term “grandmother mind” is taken from the Japanese expression “grandmother kindness,” which means that solicitous, slightly overly fussy attention that you get from your grandmother. In normal everyday speech it contains both the helpful aspects of this frame of mind and also the fussy over-attentiveness of it. In the Buddhist tradition, however, the focus is on a kind of non-grasping caring. It is a way of being optimistic, feeling good about our relationships with other people and the world, and also being able to allow the other person (or situation) to be what they are freely. We are not attached to other people, or aspects of the world or our lives, being a certain way in order for us to feel happy or to care about them.

Grandmother mind has a peacefulness to it, an engaged curiosity and interest, and calm good intentions or good will. Wishing you the best unfolding of your life and your circumstances, I am grateful for any time or connection I have with you, as you are. It is an aspiration, not a measure of our character. We move toward an easier, more joyful experience of ourselves moving through the world.




About norasblog

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Chicago.
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