Welcome to Your Mindful Life. I’m truly grateful for your time and interest.
So why have a mindful life?
Well, maybe you want to tame your impulsiveness, or find more clarity and focus? Maybe you want to have a better relationship with your kids, your partner, your boss; or just feel more at ease with people? Maybe you want to stop living in a state of expectation and start feeling gratitude for what you’ve already got? Maybe you’d like to extract yourself from a habit or three? Maybe - just maybe - you’d like to show up for this one wild and precious life of yours?*
If so, then maybe mindful awareness is for you. Why? Because mindful awareness is a game-changer; one that will teach you how to untangle yourself from the debilitation of a distracted mind; how to respond, rather than react to events as they arise. And in the age we live in - an age predicated on distraction amidst an epidemic of mental health concerns - that’s probably one of the most important life skills worth cultivating. What’s more, it’s a skill you're going to need in this unfolding century of ours, where the only certainty is the uncertainty of the world we now find ourselves living in.
By now you’re more than familiar with the narrative: climate change, algorithms, biotech: to name just three. All these are emergent realities that make the present reality of Lex Luther in the White House, and a little local difficulty in what remains of a small former colonial power, look like mere shuffling of the proverbial deck chairs. Still, the take-home is: we’re going to have to start looking after the one commodity that will save us from all this: namely, our minds. Ditch the grand plans, the strategies, the models, the agendas. Well, yes, they are important, so strike the 'ditch' bit, but first, consider this: start with yourself. Just start with your own mind. Then there will be hope. Hopefully, active hope. You will be the difference.
The first thing to realise is that your mindful life is already here. It’s available. It’s happening now. It’s just that – well, if you’re anything like me, that is – you lost it. You lost your mindful life. So this blog is about the quest to reclaim it. And the quest takes the form of an open-hearted inquiry into failing and starting over again. By which I mean: starting over, again and again and again, until, as Samuel Beckett possibly put it, you learn how to fail better. And the practice of mindful awareness is at the heart of this failing better. And yes, I know, everyone is talking about mindfulness. But you know what? Everyone needs to talk about it. Everyone needs to be aware of it. And then, when the talking stops, everyone needs to start practicing it. Again and again and again. And don’t worry about whether you’re doing it right. Just stick with the intention, and you’ll be fine.
So how do we do this thing called Your Mindful Life? Quite simply, through practice and art. The practice involves detachment, discernment and determination. The art comes down to accepting what is*.
And the method?
A particular form of meditation. One that aligns the practice and art with body and mind.
And yes, you’ve gotta take your meds. And if you say, well, I haven’t got time for that, all I can say is: you mean you haven’t got time to breathe, or pay attention? As a sage might say: go figure. Put another way: do you floss your teeth? Well, meditation is mental flossing. Besides, nobody’s saying (well, at least not here) that you have to be some marathon meditator. 10 minutes a day should do it. More than 10 minutes a day is great. In fact, I would encourage it. But 10 minutes is the baseline. Although it’s not really a question of dosage either. It’s more a habit you cultivate, or an attitude that comes out of giving yourself permission to start over and over and over again.
The intention of this blog is to simply explore how your mindful life is a genuine, authentic, open-hearted thing - as opposed to being a hippy-dippy, chilled-out thang. How it has emerging science to support its practice. How it can truly facilitate a sense of your own wellbeing. How it has an ethical dimension to it that encourages you to take that sense of wellbeing and turn it outward - direct it toward the wellbeing of others. Because there is no point in committing yourself to mindfulness unless you want it to be of service to others. And I’m not saying that in some holier than thou way (at least I hope not). I’m saying it to mean that you have no choice here: that a key element in your wellbeing is the journey outward: to not only be with what arises for you but to be with what arises for others too. And you’ve got to do that with the right attitude: with kindness, curiosity, and compassion. Those three are good, for starters.
Another intention (actually, a really big intention: but I need to summon up the courage) is to explore the mindful life of practitioners, teachers and influencers: to get to know the story of how they came to mindfulness, whether they feel they are in a wiser relationship with the present moment, how they go about sustaining the practice and art - because that’s what I struggle with: the non-judgemental attentiveness, the kindness, the curiosity, the self-compassion, the letting go, the taking my meds, all that trying and failing. Like I said: I'm a little afraid. Because it involves reaching out to people. Being vulnerable. Being mindful. And I know I like writing about it, but actually being it? Well, that's a whole different ball of mindful wax.
Which leads to this invitation: perhaps we can try and fail together? Maybe explore your mindful life as a joint quest? After all, a quest is an adventure, an unfolding narrative; so why not set ourselves the quest of understanding - or at least getting closer to understanding - how it is we go about being kinder to ourselves; how we cultivate acceptance rather than thinking we have to fix stuff; how we nurture an attitude that experiences struggle as perplexing, but also perfection?
Does that make sense to you? Does it appeal? Is it worthwhile? I think it is. Although there is a caveat: I don’t have the answers. But you probably already suspected that. Mind you, mindfulness is about being a non-expert. So I guess that's a good enough calling card. I’m just taking it one moment at a time. I’m just sharing what it’s like to be on this quest of being a mindful parent, partner, teacher, freelancer. I'm just putting forward my pitch for practicing mindfulness - and hopefully helping and supporting others.
In the meantime, like I said way back there, your mindful life is here. It's available. It's happening now. Plus, there's no cost: you just have to be able to breathe, stay in the present moment, and relinquish any pretence at expertise. You just have to commit to reframing experience as it presents itself to you.
As your mindfulness teacher might say: it’s that simple, it’s that hard.
The question is: do you want to claim it?
If you do, then I’d love to hear from you. Hear your story. Connect.
So welcome again.
Let's see where this takes us.
* Read Mary Oliver’s beautiful poem here
* Eknath Easwaran calls it the practice of detachment, determination and discrimination. For more on this read 'Conquest of the Mind’ by Eknath Easwaran. He dedicates a chapter to each of these essential attitudes. https://www.amazon.com/Conquest-Mind-Thoughts-Medi..
* The art of accepting 'what is' comes from a number of teachers. I recommend Shinzen Young, The Science of Enlightenment: how meditation works, https://www.amazon.com/Science-Enlightenment-How-M... as well as this from Krishnamurti: Meditation is not something different from daily life... it is the seeing of what is and going beyond it.
Taken from the introduction to Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti