Saturday Ramble: Mindfulness? The topic of the moment
Last weekend’s press was full of something called mindfulness, a Buddhist concept that contains a great deal of truth.
I’m not sure though that the word defines the principle with enough precision to get through to most people.
What is the mind full of? And is a full mind a good thing? In our intellectual age there’s a lot of stuff to fill countless minds, but is that what we want, or need?
I wrote about mindfulness here some months ago but in very different, and simpler, terms that could be widely understood. In the circumstances, here it is again:
Most of us are aware of a voice, apparently in our heads, that chatters away much of the time. It is not totally coherent and seems to flit over a variety of subject areas in a rambling manner. We think of it as “me”.
In severe cases it can overwhelm an undisciplined mind and drive an individual to the brink of madness. But why is it there? What purpose does it serve?
When we are deeply interested in something, the intense force of our concentration overrides the chattering imp and silences it. Close observation of our mind, as in meditation, soon shows the voice who’s boss. Watch a cat stalking a mouse or a bird. It’s a masterclass in total integration of body and mind, embodied in silence.
Modern humans are split in many ways. The voice is only one indication, but the most apparent. The trouble is, we can’t abide silence and use many props, such as radio, TV, cinema and telephone, to overcome random silence.
Yet, in that silence lies sanity and wholeness. We are not the voice. We are the awareness in which our whole being floats.
To centre ourselves in that awareness is to be wholly who we are, free of the self-generated noise and din of the busyness we take for life. When we are concentrating on a book, or even writing one, we become like the cat, fully ourselves.
Mindfulness is a useful practice, but it needs to be defined more tightly. The basic idea is to reduce the contents of the mind so that a deeper truth can emerge without impediment.
Stuffing the mind with facts and notions is not what it’s about.
… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.
Coming soon: Practical Mysticism: A different way of looking at the world.