How To Make Mindfulness Simple — An Analogy

Rik Arron
Rik Arron
Nov 30, 2016 · 4 min read

Many people ask me to explain mindfulness to them in the simplest of terms. Now I’m a sucker for a good old analogy, so bear with me on this one and let’s see where we get to.

So imagine you are submerged in the middle of a beautiful lake in the centre of a huge forest glade. Your head is the only thing above the water.

Life continually rains down on you with all kinds of wonderful and harsh conditions. People walk by and throw stones in the lake, sometimes little pebbles, other times great, big boulders.

Many times there are other people who decide to go for a swim in the lake with us and their very existence alongside their noise and commotion affects us, one way or another.

One of our biggest problems is that we were once told that this shouldn’t be the way. We heard stories that the water once was deadly still, glistening like a mirror reflecting the clear blue sky and the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding forest glades. With this in mind every ripple we now experience reinforces our need to hate the ripples and the commotion and instead seek out the perfection of total stillness.

So we flail and splash constantly, twisting and turning desperately trying to fend off anything and everything that is thrown at us or comes near us. How dare things get in the way of our peace and serenity? How dare there be ripples? We don’t realise that every move we make reacting to the various stimuli and disturbances around us only creates further ripples and waves and takes up enormous amounts of our energy.

Then one day, through learning, insight or just through sheer exhaustion, we can no longer continue fighting this tireless battle and so we stop. We stop everything and all we can do is watch. Watch the ripples.

We watch the weather ebb and flow, rain and shine. Sometimes the water swells, other times it recedes but essentially it remains the same.

We see the people throwing stones and we notice that when they land they create ripples, sometimes BIG ripples but essentially the less we get involved, the less commotion we cause and the soon those ripples just fade away.

We see the people who take a swim in our precious lake and we realise that allowing them to bathe and bask in what we have to offer makes them feel good, and that in turn makes us feel good. In fact when they are gone we miss swimming with them.

At times the lake is fairly still but most of the time there is something somewhere that is creating ripples on the water only now we’ve learnt to accept the ripples, all the ripples — the big ones and the small ones.

Now that we aren’t fighting everything and we are just watching the ripples we realise that we have more energy, and even greater than that is that we realise the lake stretches endlessly all around us and not just in front of us as we had been taught to believe.

The more and more we learn to accept that ripples are a part of water’s very nature, then the more and more we learn to welcome the ripples as they occur. We no longer worry about ripples. We no longer judge the size, origin, or nature of the ripples. They are just ripples.

If you are still here reading at this point, I’d like to think that’s because you managed to stay with the analogy and hopefully it made some sense.

For me mindfulness is about accepting that ripples are part of the mind’s very nature and learning to calmly, accept the ripples just as they are, as they arise. Psychotherapy, psychology and neuroscience may have you wanting to examine the nature of ripples, why they occur, how they effect the body, which ripples happened in your past that now cause you to flinch the most from similar ripples.

Mindfulness only focuses on the ripples right in front of you, right here, right now. Seeing them, seeing your initial reaction to them, accepting both the ripple and the reaction without any judgement and then watching as they come and go, come and come, come and go.

Thank you for reading

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Rik Arron

Written by

Rik Arron

These are my head thoughts, my eye visions and my speech words from the less travelled road.

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