By Dan Hagen
Examining one’s thoughts as if they were as remote as the dancing reflection in the pond of the distant streaks of clouds high in the sky.
Mindfulness is awareness of one’s physical and emotional state in the precise here and now of the immediate world. It is not urgency, but calm. It is not tying your courage to the sticking point and trying, but untying and untrying.
Think of your mind as a broad lake, reflecting the world and the sky clearly when calm, and distortedly when agitated. Breathe deeply, fill the senses, expand the field of awareness within and without, and restore calm.
“The adult brain remains open to change throughout the lifespan,” wrote psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel. “Though many brain scientists have … stated that the mind is just the activity of the brain, we now can look at the connection between these two dimensions of our lives from a different perspective. When we consider the mind as an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information, we come to realize that we can actually use the mind to change the brain. The simple truth is that how we focus our attention, how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information through our neural circuits, can directly alter the brain's activity and its structure.”
In the New York Times, they call mindfulness “presence.” You can also call it “meditation,” as author Alan Watts did.
“We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose,” Watts wrote. “In this respect, it’s unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
Whatever you call it, it’s the necessary counterweight to the nerve-deadening, attention-fragmenting, solitude-extinguishing daily distractions inherent in the digital age.
|Alan Watts and his influences|