Thursday, 9 July 2015

A Short Course In Mindfulness - Introduction

I don't mean to be rude, but....

I'm not a racist, but....

I'm not saying I know better than you, but.....

Of course, it's none of my business, but.....

Is it just me or is this increasing? I seem to see or hear this daily, and it's bollocks every damn time. What they are really doing is asking permission to say something they would be better keeping to themselves.

We are very keen on something we call free speech. Nothing is free. There is always a price. Whenever you "speak", be it out loud or in text, you open yourself up to criticism, contradiction, and memory. It's that last one that most people don't think about.

I have an unfortunate memory. Tell me your name at a party, I doubt I will remember it. Tell me something numerical, and I guarantee I'll forget it. But say something meaningful or controversial, and it's stuck in there for eternity. This is not deliberate on my part, and the definition of meaningful or controversial is...elastic. Let's just say that for some reason, I accidentally remember things you'd probably prefer that I didn't.

What this means is that when you contradict yourself, ten years later, I will be aghast. I may not say anything, but in my little data file in my head, you will be marked down as confused, indecisive, a hypocrite, or a liar, depending on the severity of the contradiction, and the issue in hand. I'm sorry, that's just how it is. I may not hold it against you, in fact I probably won't, because I'm very understanding and tolerant, but I'll notice.

Yes, people are allowed to change their minds, so the longer it is the less I'll care.

Well, that's me. Am I the only one? No, of course not. It's not possible. I'm quite sure there are many others out there with the same weird memory, and far less tolerant and understanding. So, it may be a good idea to engage brain before opening gob.

When you exercise free speech you are allowing all those with the steel trap memories to create these little files. Is that what you want?

Maybe you don't. And, maybe you've never considered this. So many people speak without thinking, and even write without thinking. This is obvious. It pours out.

Add to that, there are very few people who can think fast enough to filter themselves well. The vast majority of people regret things they've said, and once it's in writing....well, that's actual evidence.

So how the hell is anyone supposed to avoid long-term damage done by things they've said?

Get those thoughts out of your head.


Yes. In that inner monologue where thoughts live, tell the errant thoughts to bugger off. Yes, you can.

This is the basis of mindfulness. Speech is actually the final step, not the beginning. If there is less ugly in your head, there's less chance of it coming out.

Instead of waiting for a brave listener to correct you, correct yourself.

I have been asked to teach you how to do this. I'll give it my best shot.

Mindfulness is usually associated with Buddhist teachings. I am not Buddhist, I just like some of their ideas. You are not Buddhist either. But this concept doesn't require you to be Buddhist or know anything about Buddhism. Like many of the eastern philosophies, it stands alone.

As western people we begin with a huge disadvantage. We are selfish. In East Asia, and indeed in many other parts of the world, there is much more emphasis placed on the common good rather than the individual good. It's not a political thing, or even a religious thing, although it has certainly affected and been affected by those.

It is my considered opinion that when we are mindful it helps everyone. The funny thing is that what we actually notice is that it helps us on an individual basis. So it's a win-win.

Mindfulness can be thought of as a personal philosophy, a method. It can also be seen as self psychotherapy. Whatever you think of it as, give it a try. It works.

1 comment:

  1. Well, you KNOW I'm going to love this one. Even after some in-depth reading and applications of Buddha's teachings and other Vedic studies, I would hesitate to label myself 'Buddhist.' However, I have to admire that 'he' (or his followers, whoever) put it down in words that there is a method of self-examination that considers all sides of a subject and possibilities...the many little shadings we tend to have about a subject...for us to consider. That's the thing...the teachings do not tell us 'what' to think, but how to be more mindful about the thoughts that roll around in our head. If we choose to be mindful, we do it. Simple (?) as that. ;) Of course, that would mean giving up being unmindful. Hmm.... Talk about a tough decision for some people. LOL ~ Blessings! :)