Robert K. Stephen
We live in a society where quick answers on a phone app seem to answer the mysteries of life. If there is no answer off we flit to another space where questions are answered and life seems simplified. But as I watch these I-Phoners with a Starbucks pasted in their snout and looking for the secret of life the more meaning mindfulness has for me.
These glazed out people seem trapped in some unreal world devoid of silence and contemplation but rather of pressing of buttons and finding reality by tekkie wizards trying to simplify life but instead seem to be turning it into someone else’s view of life. Not to single out Millennials but where I see them in New York, Detroit, Toronto or Windsor so many seem ill attuned to reality. I am beginning to see what a dose of mindfulness might do for them if only they could stop glazing into their I-Phones like Alice in Wonderland gazing into the looking glass.
So, in short, I am learning much about mindfulness now being recently certified in Mindfulness by The University of Leiden and by observing the mindlessness of the I-Phone gazers!
Most importantly whatever mindfulness means to you if you get involved with it in a serious fashion it will first involve taking a traditional 8-week course in MBSR mindfulness (Mindfulness Stress Reduction Based Therapy) course. Yes, I took this type of course and bought the party line about what mindfulness means which roughly means being in the present with intention and with self compassion and kindness. This party line is interesting but does not completely reveal what mindfulness is.
Now, focusing and thinking on the actual present moment sounds a bit funny. Anyone can do it right? Just try and do it for five minutes. I bet you can’t do it. Your mind will wander to plans for tomorrow, what is for dinner or how your boss treated you badly today.
Aha! This is the first baby step of mindfulness that may take you weeks if not years to master. How to control your wandering mind or that voice that will never shut up in your head barking all sorts of commands and raising all sorts of doubts.
Now the ability to recognize your wandering mind is huge step forward in your mindfulness practice which is heavily centered in meditation. An even bigger step is developing the mental ability to recognize the wandering mind and bring it back to the breath as you meditate. Goodness this sounds so flaky I can hardly believe you are still reading this article!
If you can do these steps you are on your way to being MINDFULL OF THE PRESENT MOMENT. This is not the result of being mindful but a disciplinary evolution of the mind on the road to mindfulness.
The evolution of mindfulness is in such a state that I can not send you a text of what mindfulness means. In the American context, it has very much to do with being able to concentrate on the present moment but in the European context it means more than that. From what I can determine It means what each individual means it to be.
I have been involved in mindfulness for over year now and I rather thought early on I could give you a clear definition in a couple of sentences what it means. I am now up to a page of definitional requirements of what mindfulness is! Strangely this Father’s Day I was given a book by my daughter which proclaimed on the back jacket that now “compassion” is the next step up from mindfulness. I’ll try and come up with a definition of mindfulness as we conclude this series of articles.
In the meantime it is estimated that 95% of people come to mindfulness because they feel it will help them reduce negative experiences. 30% believe it will give them a better sense of calmness. Only 6% of people take up mindfulness because of spiritual reasons.
At the end of the day the more one delves into mindfulness there are many different competing ideas of what mindfulness means. While I welcome the confusion that often accompanies an emerging discipline because it causes significant questions to be asked about it also lends itself to possible commercial exploitation by those that care nothing about our mental health but rather use it as an attempt to placat
Robert K. Stephen