Two thumbs up for the pursuit of mindfulness
I feel like I always start these essays or pieces with ‘it’s a funny thing’. Perhaps because once you get passed the anxiety and frustration of lifes’ curve balls, you begin to see problems as strange situations that are merely matters to overcome.
I think a lot of things are quite funny in that regard.
Life. Quite a funny thing too.
So the reason I feel so comfortable talking in these terms and discussing problems as ‘obstacles’ or even ‘opportunities’ is because this whole ‘mindfulness’ thing is starting to work.
I’ll admit a few things first though.
I wanted to become Zen straight away.
When I first started on this path towards a happier, more honest state of mind, I was perhaps…a little naive. Hell I'm still naive.
I wanted my ego to die away, never to come back and leave me grounded like a fucking pebble. But that didn't happen — just in the midst of a 6 gram mushroom trip.
Instead, I fell straight back into the throngs experiencing lifes’ hardships, wondering what the hell was wrong with my headspace and how I could achieve a steady state of being.
Mindfulness had come and gone as an option. Or a fad. It was practised (partially) without any great commitment and eventually gave way to a perspective troubled by everything it seeks to eliminate.
I learnt some valuable lessons, expecting my abrupt expansion in consciousness and awareness would bring salvation to the every day challenges I faced.
But I was wrong, and things got tough.
As tough as the other periods of my life that kept me wondering ‘when it was going to get better’.
But it’s fine. I got hit hard with yet another lesson to take under my belt.
So now I'm back, pursuing the ‘practise of mindfulness’, and I feel like being the used car sales-man the pursuit of enlightenment deserves.
I feel like I'm one of those born again hippies that’s finally starting to feel the benefits of a practise that by all accounts is friggn’ tough to commit to.
Yogi’s, Buddhists and spiritual teachers/practitioners alike all pursue the idea of ‘enlightenment’ or a transcendence into higher states of consciousness and being.
I'm pursuing all that good shit, yes.
But I'm far from any true transcendence into an ‘enlightened being’. Hell, perhaps I’ll never be a spiritual being by anyone else’s definition except my own?
I mean, the reality of the situation is that I'm just another guy who’s had a heap of shit go down in his life and been lucky enough to handle it fairly constructively.
I say ‘fairly constructively’ because I'm still here. Sane (for the most part), and not a broken mess of emotional turmoil and bitter prejudices.
It’s every day. And it’s change that I've never experienced before — in everything.
In the way light hits buildings. In the way smells carry through the air and catch my nostrils.
In the way music sounds, in the way things feel to the touch and the way thoughts are processed.
But its more than all these things. Just like the books and teachers and passages say — it’s an awareness that spreads to every aspect of your existence.
Or at least my existence. And its something I've been committing to every day — and its working.
Even in my own home, and my own suburb. In locations that hold strong associations with the past, or with attitudes I found troubling, until recently.
The past does not define us, and it certainly shouldn’t haunt us. Yet a place I've grown up in my whole life has had a great tendency to cause me grief and anxiety at many moments over the last decade, simply because it plays on my subconscious. Keeps me wondering about the future.
I’m trying to get at the power of this concept, and ability to become aware of things I wasn't already aware of, stuck in this perception of all things holding more weight than they really do. Troubled by bullshit that really isn't all that real.
I hope you know what I'm talking about — all that sub-conscious judgement you impart on your surroundings, creating this narrow view of reality that really doesn't lead to too much satisfaction with life.
The pursuit of mindfulness at my own pace has slowly led me to the gradual benefits I could have only imagined on a serious psychedelic trip or deep reflection.
A deep calm. Brushes with serenity at moments in the day I need to bring myself back to my reality. Back to my present moment.
Reminding myself of the beauty of life and how fine everything when I'm scooping ice cream, or going to the bathroom, or walking from my car to the grocery store.
It’s seriously been that simple. But the familiarity with that sense has been the toughest part. Because a lot of people don’t know the feeling of ‘awareness’ or ‘calm’, and they may never know it.
But I have to say I do. I know the calm. I know the contentment and the peace of realising life is all right, no matter what happens, and it’s a matter of coming to terms with the uncertainty of it all.
That’s been the latest piece of the jigsaw anyway. Uncertainty.
Now I don’t know about you and your own problems, but if you’re reading this and you have a vague interest in the pieces you find on this website, I'm assuming you’re human. So I’ll also assume you have your own problems as well.
Uncertainty is a big old black hole for some people, and I've been one of them. I've felt the grip of doubt and apprehensions at many a corner, with many decisions. It’s life. And as much as people want to set out routines and plans and goals like they’re a friggn’ machine, they can’t escape that.
But it’s only been recently, accepting this truth completely inescapable in the totality of my life that has led me to peace. And thus, to a slowly growing appreciation for seconds. Or for minutes. Or for time with my dickhead dad, and time with my stubborn mother.
Because I ain't got time to worry. Not right now. Not really in this life time in fact.
I haven’t got time to stress. Or time to get outraged. I don’t have much time to give away to fearing for what people think of me, or what the future may bring if I'm not to do what everyone else is doing around me.
I want to give my time to worthwhile sensations and pursuits, and at this point, mindfulness is cultivating a worthwhile existence every day. Or rather cultivating mindfulness is leading to a worthwhile existence every day.
And I strongly recommend trying it yourself.
I want to share it with anyone willing to read. Or even listen. Because the benefits are for anyone willing to put in the time and patience in developing it in their own life are more than you could imagine.
But at the same time, it’s the most sacred and personal journey I could begin to comprehend — so I understand the lack of interest or ability to perceive such a concept.
Doubt me if you will. Doubt the pursuit of enlightenment, or the empowerment of mastering ones thought processes.
Still. It’s a funny thing, sitting here and wanting to express just how impressed I am with how much a simple concept can improve ones existence.
My existence. And hopefully yours.