Dispelling the Myths of Mindfulness
You may think you know what mindfulness is. Images of wise sages and sadhus, of beatnik ski bums, Jack Kerouac boots traversing the wild spaces and empty roads of America, the wise beards of Gary Snyder-esque-into-the-wild fans, burning their clothes and bank accounts in gasoline bonfires in an Alaskan wilderness – might come to mind.
We may associate mindfulness with the “poverty of spirit,” and believe it means sacrificing the past and future for the sake of present. We may think it means abandoning all material pursuits (quitting our jobs, trading the big dream house for a beaten down Toyota Tacoma with a roomy cab, and setting off towards the open road). We may think it means abandoning long term goals and a comfortable lifestyle in exchange for true happiness (which, as the myth goes, can only be realized by abandoning all material goods and material gains in favor of the one true reality: the moment).
There is an incredible mystique associated with this lifestyle – a romanticization that enthralls our minds and that dominates our cultural narrative. Wouldn’t it be incredible, the beatniks of the world (and my fellow ski bums) muse, to abandon everything holding us back and down…all this stuff and just LIVE?
As one who lived and savored my experience as a spiritual vagabond, I can say that it can be a rewarding and inspiring experience – but this is not what mindfulness is. And simply changing the possessions you have, your location, and your clothes does not equate to a more mindful existence.
Mindfulness is not defined by what you have or what you lack. It is not predetermined by your bank account nor is it distinguished by your possessions, your work, or your zip code. It cannot be seen or judged based on your clothes, your car, or your lifestyle.
Mindfulness is just that, of the mind. It is a perspective that defines how we move through the world, how we see ourselves within that world, and how we transform both ourselves and that world through our journeys. It means letting go of that which truly binds and inhibits us – not money, not the material world, not culture or society: us, meaning you, meaning your self.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is not a thing, but rather, a perspective and a commitment to the moment.
It means learning from the past without being chained by it.
It means planning and working towards the future while being aware of and living in the present.
Too often, we live our lives either in the past (dwelling in what ifs, could have, or maybes); we live our lives in fear of the future (what ifss, to dos, and possibilities). Too often we live on auto-pilot, caught between the weight of past failures and our fear of the future. And in auto-pilot, we lose sight of what is right in front of us. In our haste and our days of days, we get so caught up in memory and regret, in what must happen in the future, in our own doubts and anxieties, that we forget to live, right now.
The practice of mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now
We eat, but forget to taste.
We observe, but forget to see.
We touch, but forget to feel.
We hear, but forget to listen.
We exist, but forget to live.
Ironically, fostering mindfulness means getting our “minds” and ourselves out of the way. It means eliminating our capacity for conscious and subconscious sabotage. It means reclaiming our power and agency by first, reclaiming control over the present moment. Rather than dwelling within and devoting our energy to the non-existent what ifs, weres, and could bes of the past and future, we instead devote our energy and the combined power of our mind, body, and spirit towards what we can control – our thoughts, actions, and choices in this moment. Right now.
Mindfulness cannot be discovered; it can only be earned. And that means training our minds and bodies every day.
Mindfulness: The Key to Everything Else
As a way to avoid self sabotage, to eliminate doubt and fear, and to celebrate one’s own power and capacity for change and good, mindfulness training is critical to success – in life, in fitness, in finances…and in, well, everything else.
When we live in the moment while still working towards are long term goals and ambitions;
When we are present and in control of our thoughts and actions;
When we take responsibility for our lives and our impact upon the world;
When we can learn from our past without dwelling in it;
When we can prepare for the future while remaining flexible and open to change and transformation;
When we can see clearly, love freely, and work passionately from one moment to the next without fear or self doubt;
When we can embrace our core values and commit to living those values fully in every moment;
Then, and only then, can we realize success, prosperity, and joy; only then can we realize true transformation.
Ready to get mindful? Our ebook isn’t here yet (coming in May!). Until then, learn more about mindfulness by subscribing to our blog and enrolling in a FREE seven day, Mindfulness Challenge here.