It’s a craze these days, everyone in Los Angeles is eating kale, quinoa, tofu, drinking the piss of exotic animals and being ‘mindful’. To those of us in the world beyond California this may all seem to be hippy dippy foo foo shite and let’s be honest it is. Sorry to my LA readers, we love you but come on Kale is rank and you know it. But let’s talk mindfulness and the truth. Not that truth…
Does it work?
Should I do it?
Do you do it?
Every single day, except Sunday’s, but that’s just a personal neuroticism.
What is it?
Ah the hard question. Let me try and explain.
One day I was in university and I was in a room with people from all different faiths, cultures, countries etc. you get it, it was a diverse crowd. The point of the gathering was for a pseudo TED talk style sharing of knowledge, except instead of one person talking at us, we all spoke together and debated one another. The meeting began with a short video by two guys discussing God, the universe, the ego, the self etc. It was basically to put the target language in our heads so that when we turned to one another to discuss we would have an axis in which to orbit our discussions around.
In my group we were all some form of atheist, whatever label some atheists give themselves because they aren’t quite atheist but they are sure there is no single omnipotent being or those atheists who are intellectuals but still fear the wrath of God, whatever you call them we had some of them. The one guy in the group who was a devout Roman Catholic was actually a theoretical physicist… It takes all sorts I guess. Now this isn’t a pointless digression, listen up.
When discussing God it’s almost inevitable that religion crops up in the argument. Whether God is real or not often becomes irrelevant while we squabble over the interpretation of dusty books written by dead guys we can’t corroborate our arguments with. But funnily enough it’s the religion that doesn’t have a central book that every single person I spoke to said was ‘obviously the most peaceful religion’. I took exception to this if I’m honest. I like all facts, good and bad and even painfully horrific to be on the table.
The fact is people in the West believe Buddhism to be a religion of peace. But they will also in the same breath mention the violence in Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. But as I point out Aum Shin Rikyo were Buddhist, the trouble in Myanmar as of 2017 is Buddhists oppressing Muslims. I’m not going on an anti Buddhist diatribe here but you get the point. Every religion has nutters. BUT, why do we feel Buddhism is so peaceful? Well probably because we know nothing about it.
Moreover when I mention Buddhism you probably imagine a monk in orange, with a baldy head meditating. And that’s why we view it as a religion of peace. Meditation. So why aren’t you doing it? You know whether you consciously admit it that meditation is good for you. How wouldn’t it be? Lowering your breathing, your heart rate and regulating your emotions? It’s good for you, you know that, enough of the axioms.
Meditation for all you ‘intellects’ who are rolling your eyes has NOTHING to do with religion. Some so called spiritualists have hijacked meditation and made it about them, made it about God. But simply that is the antithesis of meditation. Meditation is about the self. There is nothing else but the self.
Here it is, here’s the truth, not many people know this so I’m letting you in on gold here; The purpose of meditation is to separate yourself from your thoughts and emotions. The purpose is to be able to screen your thoughts and emotions while you concentrate solely on you. Boom! There it is. Meditation isn’t about thinking ‘nothing’, that isn’t possible. Well it is but it’s actually called catatonic by doctors and you do not want to aim for that.
When you meditate by concentrating on your breath you start to notice feelings and thoughts popping into your head. When this happens you are able to, through practice of course, ‘note’ the thought or feeling and let it go while you go back to your breath. Eventually through practice you will notice your mind is quieter and therefore easier to keep quiet. This is a form of mental acrobats. But it is only training.
During the day when you are no longer meditating you can still be mindful using the skills you train everyday in your mediation. You will be able to separate yourself from those thoughts and feelings that are having negative affects on you. You will learn that you are not your thoughts and feelings. Moreover you will learn to control your thoughts and feelings rather than letting them control you.
I will write a full post on how to meditate for beginners and I recommend everyone tries it. But like any skill you need to stick with it to get better at it. But I can say from experience, mindfulness is a life saver.