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.
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.