Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Mindfulness, the art of being mindful. But what is it really? Is it the century old stoic attitude of acceptance and seeing things for what they really are? Wine, rotten grapes. Meat, the carcass of an animal. Mercedes Benz, a vehicle.
Is it the attitude of gratitude? Being grateful for what we have, in the hope of feeling a sense of contentment in a world that seems to never want us to be content. A world which constantly tries to convince us we need to produce, consume or take some other action in order to pursue, what are effectively externally created notions of success or happiness, ingrained into us from the cradle to the coffin. Gratitude being the frame of mind that act's as a pain killer that stops you feeling this imagined pressure, and the pain of not being able to meet these self-imposed expectations of desire.
Is mindfulness understanding that peace and love isn’t the absence of danger or fear? A feeling of control over the microcosm that is your mind when you are at peace and vibrating with love, and everything is connected in bliss. Or is it more a sense of indifference to worldly matters through an acceptance that rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, young or old, we are all essentially dying, second by second. Minute by minute. Tomorrow isn’t promised today, and our time is limited, therefore it is best used not being fearful, anxious or stuck in a state of inaction, from fear of change or inability to change, but instead best utilised in servitude to those suffering, or some other higher human purpose.
Is it our way of cutting through all the ‘noise’ created by the constant advertisements, our past or what the future will bring? Is it being in the moment, despite the machinations of those scientists of sales, the armies of marketers and researchers, who have worked out what makes your brain and body tick from all angles; societal, evolutionary and more for profit? Pressuring you to feel everything but the present. Can you recall how much of your life is spent in thoughts of past and future, and just how little you focus on the present? What am I going to eat, even though you're not feeling hungry in the moment?
Is mindfulness our ability to stop the invasion of the screens though the power of our minds? The same screens that have evolved from the fuzzy tubes of family fun found once only in the living room, to every surface imaginable. The same screens that hold the mass of all human learning, but now are more increasingly geared towards influencing our attitudes and behaviours.
Is it our ability to tune into something more than our existence, something intrinsically human or not? Perhaps some cosmic entity from God to black matter, or energy, Chi, Reiki or whatever else you wish to call the sensation.
Is it another world within a world, where you can experience the world anew? A world whose door opens upon your breath, and reminds you, you are still alive despite what has happened to you, could happen to you or is going to happen to you? Reminds you right now, you are alive for you can breath, and in that sole, singular, breath you find comfort knowing the world, full of life, breathes with you.
It is it a way to unleash and observe the thoughts of your truer self, your inner mind, 'system 2' thinking, your belief systems and world views? Or is it more a case of uncovering the reasoning of your 'system 1' thoughts, intuition, gut feeling or whatever else you'd like to call spontaneous thinking?
Or is mindfulness all of these things, none of these things, or more than any of these things combined, and it all depends on you, the individual, and how you choose to focus your intention, and tune it to the experience you wish to have, from which you derive the most enjoyment in the twilight zone that is your amazing mind.
For me mindfulness is a story.
It is a story about a monk who is running from a ravenous tiger who will not give up the hunt. He runs through a thick jungle, full of potential terrors and things that bite, as well as, opportunities to avert danger, until whilst running he falls into a deep cavern. As he falls he grasps at an outward branch, and swings there with one hand. He looks at the top of the pit. There is the tiger waiting for him to climb up. He looks below, and sees hungry vultures waiting to pick the meat off his bones. It is only then, when he is caught between the pan and the fire, the rock and the hard place, does he see a berry in front of him on the branch. He takes it. He tastes it. It is the best berry he has ever had.
The tiger is symbolic of ones past chasing you through life. The vultures are symbolic of the worries of the future that will come to conclusion upon death. The jungle is symbolic of life in general. The berry is the present moment. And ultimately the ability to taste and enjoy the berry is mindfulness.