What is Meta-Mindfulness?
“The world is won by those who let it go.” -Lao Tzu
Writing provides an excellent precedent for living when done with a certain degree of abandon. I woke up today and didn’t particularly feel like writing, but lately I’ve just sort-of pledged to write 1000 words a day for this particular blog and I don’t plan on letting up on that anytime soon. I had to just let go, sit down, and get to it.
Strengthening our daily habits requires a type of mindful mindlessness that I have never found any literature on. It’s a form of lucid intoxication that makes committing to something simultaneously unthinking and rational. I’ve written extensively on the benefits of mindfulness as a methodological approach to having a heightened attentiveness to the world. After tackling mindfulness it’s possible to experiment with a willful suspension of it. Mindless activity is often harmful and meaningless, but meta-mindlessness is spurred by, you guessed it, meta-mindfulness.
Meta-mindfulness is a self-imposed lack of overthought that allows us to just sit down and write, paint, eat, whatever. It’s mindfulness in its truest and least forced form, enabling the trained practitioner to engage fully with the moment and do things for the sake of themselves. I didn’t find myself developing this until recently. We all fall into the common traps of misunderstanding when it comes to mindfulness and other spiritual skills. We think it just means to focus hard and pay attention. But the mind can be focused while still overacting, overthinking and overanalyzing.
Meta-mindfulness is an aid to modern life. So many of our actions have endless layers of ulterior motives that we rarely stop to investigate. Mindfulness as a first step allows us to investigate our motives, develop self-honesty, and use critical thought to our advantage to peel away layers of falseness from ourselves. But meta-mindfulness allows for the further steps to be taken, steps of actual decisive action. Overthinking action is just another complicated form of egoism. The person who can’t decide whether or not to act isn’t more or less virtuous than anyone else, they just have a stronger ego-self conflict going on in their heads.
Indecisiveness and inaction are products of dishonesty with ourselves. The person who is always clear about their true desires and motivations (usually because they’ve done the work required to uncover them) is rarely hesitant about action. The term “intuition” comes to mind, but different people have varying qualities of intuition. Just because you exist doesn’t mean your intuition is going to lead you in the right direction. If your mind is cluttered with nonsense and falsehoods (which most minds are), your intuition won’t help you any more than any other tool. But if you’ve found within yourself an ability to reach the essence of honesty, diligence, and self-discipline, you’re likely to be able to access meta-mindfulness.
The best part about these post-mindful developments are that the mind becomes better and better trained to initiate them when it needs to without much thought. It’s why Samurai were trained to fight without thinking; they had cultivated enough discipline and mental clarity to do so. The muddled modern person uses conceptual thought as a crutch, and is thus usually dishonest with themselves and others. Once this crutch is overcome, one can still live a mindful and moral life without so much conceptual thought (if not moreso!)
Meditate. Work on developing mindfulness so that you can develop meta-mindfulness. The key will be learning to not care about these results, but just continuing to cultivate growth in the way a farmer cultivates his field.