A mind or a mindful?
Updated: May 19
They’re harping on about Mindfulness, it’s one of the buzz-words and last week there was a Mindfulness Day as part of Mental Health Week. So what is the fuss all about?
To be sure, we need something to counter what’s termed Western Civilisation. You don’t need to look far to see what I mean. Peep across the English Channel (or what the French stubbornly call La Manche) and drive south to the Pyrenean slopes where a pre-consumerist way of life lives on. Almost. But thanks to the internet is rapidly being eroded. Or look at Climate Change…. And then there’s the stress levels prevalent in ordinary people’s lives, which is why the desire for Yoga, Tai Chi and things like Mindfulness comes from.
Drowning in the sea of stuff, whirling through the internet, dizzy with the speed of life, we have lost touch with what might be termed a healthy life-style. We don’t feel in touch with ourselves, whatever that might mean to each of us. And so we assume Mindfulness and other tricks will help, and help they do, if our effort is genuine we are rewarded with a sense of calm.
This is why Mindfulness has become a cult, indeed many cults each with its own wise person who’s given up contemplating their naval to contemplate the millions they’re making from Apps and who knows what. They who expound the glory of avoiding the traps of materialism live like rock stars in huge shiny houses with supercars in the garage, but say it’s only stuff when your mind is filled with mindfulness. Hmm. They speak in calm voices, smile, tell people to let go and go with the flow, but they’re creating systems, building mini-religions, living in the shade of the castles in the sky which they praise. And people, wanting to be Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, are hooked. Assuming those multi-millionaire gurus have a magic potion, they pay, pay and pay, making the cult leaders delightfully happy.
Mindfulness is a process of Buddhist meditation which was taken and refined from Yoga. It involves taking your attention from your whirling thoughts and bumbling emotions to your body so that you can gain detachment from the personality you think is you and live in harmony with what actually is. That’s it in essence.
“What?” You might exclaim, “my personality isn’t me?”
We’re made up of dozens of personalities. There’s base line you, the core being set when your mind first began to react to events inside the womb; there’s the personalities you gradually constructed as you grew up, one personality for each parent, each sibling and so on with everyone of importance and one for every important situation as your world expanded until you became the highly complex character reading this blog today. Inside my head there’s - the sensible citizen of England, the professional writer/artist, the guy who meditated mindfully for years, the fellow who taught others to meditate, the being who ran when they put me on a throne, (seeking answers, they assumed I had it all). Beneath, is the lad who grew up alongside the Nandi tribe and who’d often linger with them, barefoot, at one with nature, listening to the call of the wild, sensing the zebra through his feet.
That’s what meditating tapped into. We all have this ability, it’s just that speedy modern life demands so much of us that we don’t have the time to linger. The word lallygag has slipped from our language because being aimless is regarded as weakness unless it’s upon a sunny beach in a known resort, because it’s then seen that you’ve earned it and are spending well gained money to prove you’re a good materialist. But to ‘daydream’/be unfocused during the working day - No! No, no. That’s upsetting the applecart - work, don’t waste time, time is money. We’ve been programmed since childhood to tread the capitalist treadmill.
Research, however, shows that to dawdle during the working day, provided it’s done in short bursts, makes you more productive because you emerge from such sessions brighter, refreshed, ready to start again. It’s why tech-firms have chill-out-zones. Before supposedly civilised culture’s complexities cluttered our craniums, we were ‘mindful’ or whatever term you prefer. We noted through our senses the world about us, we sensed the change in the weather through our skin, we sensed the detail of life around us.
Mindfulness is simple. Slipping aside from our addiction to thought, logic, emotion and everything in between, allowing your attention to float within your sensual world is amazing. Hark! The herald rain drops patter! There is nothing more to it. Animals do it, the cat lying before the fire, the dog panting in the shade, the deer lifting its head seeking predators; and my Nandi mates leaning on their spears as they surveyed the savannah for lion, leopard, cheetah or other tribes who might attack their cattle….
Mindfulness is not watching your breath, that’s mindfulness of your body sitting on a cushion in a boring room. That’s a dreamer’s religion, a system made of stone. It is being alive, moving with the flow. Do it as Yoga, Tai Chi, slow dancing in the kitchen, anything which enables you to reside in your sensual world without the craving to be hedonistic… more a chill-out laced with wonder and admiration for the being you are but ignore, than a sensual orgy. You are a subtle sensual creature abounding with earthy wisdom grounded in raw awareness. A cool cat, an alert dog, an awake deer.
Trust in your core being. Love it, admire it! Admire others for being such extraordinary creatures. You will eventually feel happy in your skin. A direct, non intellectual understanding of your immediate world helps you slowly gain a grounded (non intellectual) sense of what it is all about. You feel, (rather than think) your place in it all.
Enabling your attention to slip into this mindset from time to time, even briefly at work, eases the stress building within your mind, pacifies the wild questions soaring through you, enables you to simply be at one with things. Thoughts, emotions, they come and go like the clouds in the sky; you are the blue in between. And you’ll feel wealthier than those guru guys.
*(Ho, two of my books explore this topic - tap here or go to my books page)