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December 05, 2010

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Have you replaced "realizing God/Reality" with an idea of ever-present mindfulness (and some enjoyable sensations to go with it)?

And do you think that with mindfulness you will no longer miss a glove, or an exit, or a birthday, ever again?

Leaf blowers are an abomination. There's a good article on the subject in the Oct. 25 issue of The New Yorker.

Lou, you raise a good point. Mindfulness shouldn't become another ultimate goal, like "God" or "enlightenment." Maybe I sounded like this is what I've done -- simply changed ultimacies -- but it doesn't feel that way.

Yes, I'd like to have fewer frustrating non-mindful experiences, such as when I'm halfway into town, suddenly wonder "did I turn the burner off?", and question whether I should turn the car around and check. (I've started to say "off" out loud now when I turn the burner switch; that helps burn, so to speak, the action into my awareness.)

But I don't expect that my life will be perfect if I'm more mindful. At the same time (this is the beauty of mindfulness), I also don't want to set up "have no ultimate goals" as an idol either. If I do, I do. If I don't, I don't. I think the key is being as aware as possible of what is actually going on, either inside my head or outside of it. Then dealing with reality becomes a lot easier.

Chauncey, we live on ten acres in rural Oregon. I can barely hear our closest neighbor's leaf blower on his property, so I assume the same is true for him. I agree that leaf blowers are an abomination when used for a long time in urban areas. But in some situations, like ours, they're ideal. It would be almost impossible to cope with our leaves without a blower, since much of our yard is unrakable.

This is a wonderful post, Brian!!!

I liked,

"Becoming aware of what actually is happening in the world, and the life we're living -- as contrasted with being excessively distracted by concepts, imaginings, anxieties, and other cogitations that aren't really necessary for here-and-now experiencing."

--Do we ever really become "aware" of what is "actually" happening? True, it would depend on what "actually" means. And, I like this "here-and-now" experiencing. However, what exactly would be an example of a nonconceptual "here-and-now" experience? I'm not finding fault, I do agree with the basic message.

Roger, I've read in several books that 95% (or more) of processing in the brain occurs outside of our awareness. So, no, it is impossible to ever become aware of what is "actually happening."

But we can be as aware as possible of what it is possible to be aware of. Meaning, often we don't pay attention to what is accessible to our consciousness. Sensations, for example.

Which are good examples of non-conceptual here and now experiences. As I type, I feel the pressure of my fingers hitting my laptop's keyboard. Those sensations are immediate, unmediated, not modified by thought.

But if I started thinking, "Gosh, there's a bit of extra tingling in the little finger of my left hand. Maybe I have Pinkie Cancer! Oh, no!!", that would be an example of conceptual cognition being added on to immediate awareness.

Sometimes this is necessary and good. Ignoring a chest pain, for example, would be unwise. Simple sensations need to be thought about on occasion. But most of the time they don't. We can go through our day being aware of sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, and smells without ruminating over them unnecessarily.

(Hearing a tiger roar in a dark jungle requires a response, of course, but mere thinking won't be of much use.)

Becoming aware of what actually is happening in the world, and the life we're living -- as contrasted with being excessively distracted by concepts, imaginings, anxieties, and other cogitations that aren't really necessary for here-and-now experiencing.

Hence, mindfulness is my focus now, not a form of meditation that distances me from the world, my body, and physical sensations....

Hm, I suspect any meditative practice will emphasize distancing yourself from distractions though. Most advise "observe and let go of" - rather "try to suppress" - distractions. And few hide away from civilization.

I'm not sure how meditation or mindfulness could be practiced successfully without a "distraction filter". The problem is "concepts, imaginings, anxieties, and other cogitations" are fueled by what we're seeing and hearing externally moment by moment. While mindfulness may increase awareness of the mind's activity, sensory input is feeding its power. Mindfulness is a wonderful aid, but to understand and tame mental demons, a more rigorous, distraction-avoiding practice is needed. I think mindfulness and meditation are both needed.

I wonder - is it possible to be anything but mindful?

Isn't focusing on otherworldy fantasies still practising mindfulness? One is experiencing the fantasy here and now, just as one is breathing here and now, and perspiring here and now and walking down the street here and now.

Is the practise of mindfulness really 'selective mindfulness'? Ie. you focus your awareness on the doing rather than thinking?

Brian,

Good points made. That possible 5% form(?) of mindfulness is most interesting of topics. And, that those moments of non-conceptual awareness are ever interupted with moments(periods) of conceptuality.

Surely, the brain needs a healthy dose or balance of conceptuality and non-conceptuality. Could practicing a meditation that forces one into a state of non-conceptuality be harmful or not?

"Mindfulness is the art of observing your physical, emotional, and mental exeriences with deliberate, open, and curious attention. And although it is an "art" that can be cultivated through a daily formal meditation practice (which we talk about throughout the book), you can easily practice it instantaneously to be aware of your present-moment experience anytime in the course of a day."

---This defintion of Mindfulness is OK. However, the need to practice a daily formal meditation may not be necessary. Yes, this is a daily (moment by moment) process that occurs naturally for all of us.

"Our bodies simply function as they always do: pumping blood, taking in information from the senses, and experiencing sensory and emotional responses to stimuli. Our minds interpret these direct physical experiences -- and often create stories around them -- in ways that may increase discomfort or suffering and create more reactivity in our minds. We can short-circuit this reactivity by returning our attention to the felt experience of our bodies."

---Now, what is the word for this 'mind' activity, that interprets physical experiences? Surely, we can create stories around them that don't create harm and suffering. Thus, a non-suffering cognitiveness, that doesn't need a meditation practice to occur.

accept mindfulness as it is... spirituality as it is... (non judgement).. everything is illusion (knowledge also) except self.. namaste

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