Exploring Mindfulness

There’s a spate of great people coming together and projects happening at the moment that circle around the idea of Mindfulness. I’ve certainly gained a lot of value from studying and practicing being more mindful, albeit sporadically, in the past few years and would encourage others to engage with the topic. 

One such project is Mindful*, which is a conference being run by Ross Hill and Jan Stewart later this year. You can still buy tickets here, but get in quick.

I’m really looking forward to going, and wanted to post about my thoughts on mindfulness. I wanted to share a quick story about one recent moment which helped me further understand what it is all about.

Beach Meditation

A couple of months ago I had the privilege of joining Jan for a coffee and a chat in St Kilda, to discuss what it means to be mindful and also to share in some meditation. She writes a great blog and can often be seen tweeting and #deepdiving, which is what I wanted to find out more about in our chat. The very idea of a deep dive sounded alluring.

Over coffee, we discussed my current approach to mindfulness. I had meditated before, but not consistently. Whilst I had a good awareness for moments when I was being unnecessarily distracted or impacted by extrinsic things, I was prone to some intrinsic anxious moments, caused by my own mind wandering away on its own. I’m sure we’ve all had these; moments when that little voice in your head gets carried away, just before hitting the red button. 

We talked about how, when studying mindfulness, we sometimes get carried away with forcing ourselves to “think of nothing,” which of course defeats the purpose. If you’re focusing on thinking about nothing…are you really thinking about nothing? 

That was quite a revelation for me.

We then moved over the road, to the beach, and simply sat on the bench you see above and meditated for a time. One thing that was hard with sitting on that bench was the number of people that move inn front of you on the bike track, zipping to and fro on their bikes, rollerblades and other conveniences. 

I found I was being easily distracted (or focused) on the movement happening there. Suddenly, a stiff breeze whipped through. This happenstance alone helped me really grok what it was Jan was talking about over coffee. The wind was something that I was missing, because I was too focused on trying to ignor the bikes.

In life, sometimes we can’t help but be drawn to the movement and energy which surrounds us. When someone asks you the question:

“How busy are you at the moment?” we can’t help but reply:

“Oh yeah, pretty hectic at the moment!”

We wear it like a badge of honor. But this ‘bustle’ is actually only helping you miss the obvious. What is it that is right in front of you, right now, that such movement might distract you from. For me on that day, it was the bikes and rollerbladers. In every day life, it may be anything. The wind came through and helped me realize there are things I’m missing, if I’m open to them. And, once open, the experiencing of actually feeling all of those previously unknowns _is_ the experience that meditation is great for.

I get a sense that mindfulness is just that. It’s about opening up your awareness to everything that may or may not be in your current consciousness. I’m looking forward to investigating it more at Mindful* and look forward to hopefully seeing you there. 

9 thoughts on “Exploring Mindfulness”

  1. This is beautiful Steve.

    I had a similar epiphany in a little village in Japan in 2007. After coming out of an intense period of meditation we all sat down to have tea. One of the girls poured the tea from a little higher than usual and the small old porcelain cup resonated with a certain tone/pitch. Each cup when being poured in to produced a different pitch. I ran out to the kitchen like a lunatic and grabbed a little spoon and proceeded to tap each of the 12 small cups. They were actually in 6 pairs and each pair had a hand painted native bird on it. The pitch was different for each of the pairs of birds. No one had noticed this before and some had been there for 10 years. At this moment I woke up again and began to trust myself even more.

    Depth, space and practice brings us home. Busy is sometimes an escape or mask. And there are new worlds of love, life and beauty sometimes hidden in plain view.
    What signals, feelings or inner wisdom do we potentially miss or drown out each day? With focus, practice and effort can we deepen our relationships with ourselves and the world… I believe so.

  2. Thanks for sharing your truth. Other people.can understand what your sharing and relate bc they’re at same place for sure! Keep with it… love to meet jan, she’s a marvelous breeze blowin from out yonder… cheers🙂

  3. Mmm, “intrinsic anxious moments.” I’ve been experiencing those…and then leaning past those edges. Your story called out to me because as you dive (deep) into a mindfulness practice, I’m currently practicing mindfulness of speech (or “spiritual speech,” which is focused on being kind to self and others.

    Glad I found you via Satya!

    1. Hi Cali (and Satya!)

      Thanks for the comment. What do you mean by leaning past those edges? That sounds like an interesting exercise. Mindfulness of speech seems so valuable, I’d love to hear more about what you’re up to.

      Do you blog anywhere?🙂

      1. Hi, again! Yes, I blog at caligater.com…though it’s itching for an intellectual revamp.🙂

        Leaning past edges: meaning, at the moment that an idea, a conversation, a feeling becomes uncomfortable, leaning further *into* it rather than retracting or pulling back to safety. Sometimes leaning past edges means leaping; instead of staying safe with feet firmly grounded near the edge of a cliff, one falls (or leaps) off the edge of a cliff.

        Mindfulness of speech: currently reading What We Say Matters by Judith and Ike Lasater. They draw comparisons between what we say and a yoga practice (though that’s not the premise of the book, so if you’re not a yogi, don’t be turned off by that! :)). Essentially, they posit that every.single.word.we.say. is a practice (much like a meditation practice or a practice of mindfulness). Very good stuff.

      2. Thanks for the comment Cali, and for your explanation of what you mean by
        leaning past edges. I really love the imagery of that thinking. I was
        reading somewhere last night that we need to want to change before we
        jump…I like how your comment blends with that.🙂

        The book you’re reading sounds excellent – would love to hear more about it
        when you’re done!

  4. Great post mate. For me, mindfulness is simply about being mindful of one’s present experience, internally and externally.

    Someone had it right a very long time ago when they said to stop and smell the flowers. I guess your message is partly about not living in a manner that means you don’t have time to!

    See you at Mindful*. Looking forward to it.

    Whoever else is reading – #cometomelbourne!

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