I clicked on an article of someone I admire. The topic? Mindfulness. It was an interesting take. Advice on using your mind for your own good, being full of thinking, that sort of thing. I was deflated. But then I remembered I have this platform, to write the article I wanted to read, so here goes …
What Is Mindfulness?
The best I can think to describe it at the moment is a noticing awareness.
Thinking mind is engaged, but it is enhanced.
Rather than consuming all of your energy and attention, it is a group-player on the cooperative stage of your mind.
Mind full – walking down the street consumed with a thought, working something out in your mind,
unaware of anything around you other than perhaps your feet as you move without stumbling.
You get home, body refreshed, mind still swirling with no resolution.
Mindfulness – walking down the street, working something out in your mind, with awareness
of grass, trees, flowers, cars, benches, clouds, sky;
mind is moving at a “one notch down” speed, other input is allowed in;
answers spring forth.
You get home, body and mind refreshed.
The delightful sense of resolve and knowing the next best step.
Mind full walking leads to mindfulness walking – if you walk long enough. It’s just how the brain works1.
But what about the guru’s? meditation? paying attention to your food labels?
Food labels is an example of “being mindful” – taking into account factors when making a decision. A considering.
Meditation is often seeking “no mind”, or a neutral single focused mind. Walking, sitting, with mind turned many notches down. Shifting the frenetic mind into focus on a self-empowering mantra (I am love), breath, or a visual (often things like “seeing your thoughts as a stream going by”).
Meditation is practicing a brain state, and encouraging neuropathways2.
With your handy-dandy neuro-highway installed, it becomes easy to shift Mind Full down a notch.
This is the practical goal of meditation. One use of it. And one way to create more mindfulness in your world.
Mindfulness Is Body-Mindness
What does that mean? There are 2 input mechanisms – physical experience and thinking mind.
Doing dishes by hand, a simple example.
Thinking mind can be so loud you never notice the bubbles, the water against your skin, how the water flows downward off the shiny clean plate.
That entire mechanism of input is blocked.
When input from the physical body and thinking mind are both engaged, there is mindfulness.
A Mindfulness Practice
using the mind to open the input from the physical body
I invite Curious Mind to come out and play.
Hmmm, I wonder … what sensations are going on in my body right now?
They have no names. Instead they have locations, colors, densities, sometimes sounds, smells …
Some have motion. Some have potential movement.
If the are moving, changing … curiously watch from a fascinated state of mind.
you’ve just experienced using the mind to open the input from the physical body
this is mindfulness
1 The brain is wired for survival. In order to survive, it needs to keep an eye out for the unknown. The unknown might present danger, or new sources of food, or a procreative mate. Our cave ancestors lived to tell the tale, so the system worked and the Thrive Brain was built right atop the Survive Brain.
The brain automatically starts to tune out the known. Whether that is your smelly socks, the pile of papers behind your desk, or your entire commute, the brain has the capacity to keep it off your Awareness Radar.
So as you walk, as you roll that thing you’re working out in your mind, saying the same thing over and over, the brain gets bored and starts to amuse itself with the new environment. “Haven’t seen THAT dandilion before! That rock wasn’t on the sidewalk yesterday. Was that a bird noise?”
Mindfulness has set in.
2 At the crude physical level, everything is a set of neuron’s firing. Emotion felt throughout the body can be traced to neuro-chemical processes kicked off other chemical processes that bring sensations in your body that you recognize as a particular emotion. (That, of course, is a bunch of hoey from the perspective of the Emotion – the emotion feels alive, it’s me, it’s feel bigger than me sometimes. It’s all there is. From the perspective of Thoughts we find the same reaction – they see themselves as living beings – far more than a biological animal signaling neuronal sequences all over the place!) Aeh.Nee.Way …
Meditation is practicing the neuronal sequences of “the mind functioning several notches down”.
Learning is a multi-dimensional process.
One method is neuronal sequence fired many times over many days to change the physical structure of the axon to make more dendrites to keep up with the demands of the preceding axon pushing the neuro-chemicals into the synapse-waiting-area.
Other methods are multi-sensory in nature and work through the experiential processes rather than the thinking processes (thinking processes – as in “trying to think about not thinking”).
For example, brain wave CD’s. They attune the brain to the experience of, say, highly active Theta Waves and very quiet Alpha Waves.
Think of it like this – you read a book, studied for an exam, then went to a rock concert. Which one goes into your brain better? For alot of people the concert goes in better because it is experiential rather than solely cognitive. How much better do you remember fiction than studying for an exam? Same type of thing – you were actively creating experience as you read. But I digress from my digression, so I get to put a 3 here! yay!