Greetings! I haven’t written a blog post in many years (when I wrote about my motorhome travel adventures). It is seriously time to get over ‘writers block’, and just write! I’ve got stuff to say, damn-it!
So 2013 has been an interesting year for me. If you read my bio (here), you’ll know that I’ve been involved in contemplative practice for quite a long time. This year, some kind of internal momentous force just started moving in me, and I felt inspired, drawn towards, teaching Mindfulness. It is also part of my commitment in participating in the Basic Mindfulness Facilitator training. I have chosen Shinzen Young’s Mindfulness system, because … it’s practical, beautiful and scalable. (and, it happens to work really well for me). Regarding the term, ‘scalability’:
“Mindfulness Lite can calm a 6th grader. Mindfulness Mid-Strength can take the edge off of stress and improve your golf game. On the other hand, Industrial Strength doses of mindfulness will allow you to stride through life like a Colossus—in touch with a Happiness that cannot be shaken by circumstances.”
Shinzen Young (Article: What is Mindfulness, 2013 version).
So, there are many different reasons to learn Mindfulness, and many different goals for Mindfulness. It’s a deep skill set, and it’s highly individual, as to how you want to use that skill set.
I see two broad categories: exploring the human condition, and improving the human condition. Most people have a bit of both going on, but will have a stronger bent towards one or the other. I see these two categories as intrinsically linked. To give an example, one of my teachers always talked about the link between appreciation/enjoyment, and compassion. So how does enjoying and appreciating music, food, nature, art, and social interaction link to being a more compassionate person? Both require a profound sensorial openness. We are present and open to the entire field of experience.
When I say ‘sensorial’, I’m using the Basic Mindfulness definition of sensory experience, which includes our physical sensory experience (See out, Hear out, Feel out) and our thoughts and feelings (See in, Hear in, Feel in). In other words, ALL of our field of experience, can be spoken about as ‘sensory experience’.
Speaking of enjoyment, I think that using Mindfulness for deeper enjoyment of daily life can be a wonderful approach, because it creates a positive feedback loop. It also can save you money, because you get more ‘bang for the buck’, sensorially speaking. For example, you can get ridiculously happy just watching the birds or listening to a song. The color of the sky, can just make your day. Watching humans at the supermarket, can be utterly fascinating.
Practicing Mindfulness ‘because it’s good for you’, seldom produces the desired results. (How many magazine articles have you read about all the healthy foods you should be eating?). Why is creating a positive feedback loop so important? Because it takes a lot of momentum to upset the apple cart of the ‘default mode’ of the mind. The ‘default mode’ is a contemplative scientist term for self-referential discursive thinking – ie. the dream-fog that we walk around in much of the time.
So my advice – explore sensory experience through Mindful Awareness training, and enjoy life more!