21 Jul mindfulness or mindlessness
The popular term mindfulness has caught on quite strong in recent years and is the result of a harried society. We want to simplify and de-stress. One way of doing that is to become mindful – to pay attention, seeing, reality as it is in the moment. Whether it is focusing on bodily sensations, eating, walking or meditation, one finds peace in the rawness of the present moment, taking them out of the anxiety producing thoughts in the mind.
It’s not about having no thoughts in your mind, but about observing one’s self, thoughts, emotions, and reality as it occurs in the moment. It’s not about trying to do anything. Pure observance.
In many ways it is about getting to a place where mind is empty, or it is at least the process of emptying the mind. We could never totally empty the mind but it is an emptying of sorts. I was reading a book the other day where the author was describing how mindfulness was really more like mindlessness. I like this. Mindfulness always feels like you’re trying to do something. “Don’t bother me, I’m trying to be mindful!” Even the word, mindful, sounds like I need to be more full of thought with the suffix “ful” on the end of mind. Something about mindfulness makes me feel pressure, it feels like an action instead of an inaction. I guess mindfulness is an action but maybe that is why I like the idea of mindlessness.
I still like the emphasis of raw presence. It sort of goes to my wondering if the materialists were right. Instead of filling one’s mind with arguments, thoughts, opinions, and problems, we empty it so that we can see the moment. It is just about living, breathing, experiencing. It is about as pure existence as we can have. I can’t think of a better place to meet God if you believe in God. That is why I think God might be a materialist and not a theologian. Jesus wasn’t a theologian – he pointed out reality as it existed, as it breathed. He was complex and ambiguous but there was always a simplicity about what he was saying. In other ways though, I will have to say that Jesus was downright exhausting. Maybe he could have been a little more “mindless” and given us a more pure and simple set of understandings.
Trying to go through my day and let my mind go, let it stop bothering me, is not easy. My mind is like my 2 year old son, it’s always at my side begging me to give it attention.
I’m not saying that we should work toward mindlessness all the time. There is a time for mind. Mind is wonderful, mind is productive, mind is creative. But mind needs a break, an un-filling up once in a while.