May 21, 2009

This week I intended to practice the art of mindfulness for a week, and then use the insights gained as a blog entry.

Unfortunately, the most dinstinct insight I got was that I’m not yet skilled at being mindful.

To me, mindfulness means the ability to fully engage with the moment, be aware and in tune with the immediate surroundings, without the cognitive and emotional baggage that many of us have: being with the present, rather than the past or future.

On that note, and a small aside: my baggage is primarily futuristic. Being incredibly task orientated (to the point of maladjustment!), my thoughts often resemble a mental to do list: what is happening later in the day, what jobs I need to get done and in what order, and so on.I’m constantly planning my next move, at the expense of involvement and appreciation of the current move.

In the book Mindful Moments for Stressful Days, author Tzivia Gover quotes the Zen saying: “A cup is useful in its emptiness.”

This is something I would do well to remember. Whilst my mind is often full, it is sometimes full of thoughts that are beneficial or useful to me at the time. For example, I often have trouble falling asleep, as I have got into the habit of time in bed to be my mental dumping time- when all the thoughts that were squeezed out by mental clutter during the day make their case known.

Learning the ability to empty my mind would allow me to start afresh, and to fill my mind with useful thoughts according to need, or be able to engage on a more sensory, moment based level than an intellectual at times of renewal and rest.

I have developed some meditation skills in the past. I meditate best with a guided meditation, and when the conditions are right I can have quite vivid and insightful experiences. However, I know that that misses the point some what- the conditions should be secondary to my own state of mind.

I resonate strongly with the ideas, and at times, experience of a deeper conciousness. And to make the next step in my spiritual journey, I know that letting go of excess mental clutter is vital.

I find it telling also, that it is thoughts rather than emotion that block my ability for mindfulness and engagement in the moment. Whilst my emotions can manifest intensely at times, this is rare. I have often observed too, that I anaylse and rationalise my emotions- another sign of task orientation and dominance of my pattern of intellectualising.

There are times, however, that I do engage with the moment quite easily. Today, Bodhi and I were playing in the garden, pretending to be nature photograpghers in a jungle taking a picture of some tigers (our cats played along well). In the minutes before sleep I relax completely and listen to the rain or night noises outside, feeling the circle of energy between Bodhi and I as he sleeps peacefully next to me.

Generally though, these moments of mindfulness and total absorption in the moment are when I am interacting with the world on an intellectual level.

The word ‘flow’ describes this kind of absorbtion: when you are so wrapped up in what you are doing, anything not related to that activity is blanked out, and you find that time has passed rapidly. It is an enjoyable and motivating experience.

I often experience flow, but as mentioned above, the greatest majority of times are when I am undertaking a goal orientated activity that is primarily cognition based: study, or writing in this blog for instance. It almost always occurs when I am undertaking a solitary activity.

Having said that, I have noticed patterns with my ability to engage more readily in being based, renewal activity (or lack of activity) and times where I am more energetically task orientated. When I’m ovulating, I’m powerfully task driven, and more restful during menstruation, and I try to embrace this restful energy, as my natural inclination the other way is so dominant. Also, I am strongly task driven around a full moon, and immediately after until the new moon I am generally low in energy and at those times more able to be mindful.


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