I have been reading a book about a little thing called mindfulness meditation. I must segue into the rest of this post by saying that I have over the past almost two years of therapy frequently been blown away by the dawning realization of how little the average person knows about what it is that makes them tick. Most of us are so out of touch with our own inner world that we don’t have the first clue about what motivates us to do the things we do, like the things we like, fear the things we fear. It is equal parts amazing and scary and tragic because the ramifications of this ignorance for each and every single life is so profound. We close ourselves off to who and what we really are all in the interests of maintaining connection with the important people in our lives and we have absolutely no idea that we’re doing it.
Insert end of segue here.
Mindfulness meditation – the concept is laughably simple. Everything that comes into your awareness for the length of time that you are meditating is noted (i.e. you become consciously aware of it) and you accept it without judgment. For example I have taken to spending fifteen minutes each day in mindfulness meditation. I find a quiet place, I close my eyes, I turn my attention to my breathing. As each thought comes into my mind I am to become aware of it and then gently turn my attention back to my breathing.
Did I say the concept was laughably simple? I believe I did. And it is… laughably simple IF… you are the type of person who thinks your thoughts are acceptable. Which is to say not me. If you are me you spent your formative years learning and then fearing that every thought you had, every opinion, every idea was subject to somebody else’s idea of what was wrong with your thought, opinion, idea. So you learn a few things. You learn that your own ideas are subject to criticism, stinging criticism, you learn to dismiss your thoughts as invalid, you learn that your ideas aren’t worth anything, creativity flies out the window and from there you pretty much learn to keep your real thoughts to yourself. Oh you’ll discuss the weather, sports and maybe even politics but real honest to goodness deep conversations? No way. Feelings? Forget it. Creativity? You lose it.
There is an interesting bent to this kind of learning. It isn’t like intellectual learning, you know the kind that says two plus two makes four and Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety two. Those are facts. This is burned into your soul learning, not unlike being branded much as cattle are branded. You don’t just scrape that brand off, it is burned in there.
Laughably simple and very difficult for me. Funny thing though, you start to realize after doing this a few times that even the thought that your thought is bad or wrong or somehow unacceptable, even that is ok. Everything is ok.
Right now I have no concept of what it would be like to live a life that accepts what I think without judgment. I suppose it comes as no surprise that I am my own harshest critic. Funny how that happens, one day you start to believe the hype and turn against yourself. I have no concept that my ideas might be worth pursuing, that my thoughts, my feelings do matter to someone, they matter to me and they are what make up my subjective world which is what makes up my experience which is what makes up my life. Acceptance of my own thoughts no matter what they are.
There is of course still much to be undone. The discovery of that brand on my behind has only just happened but where else does one start no? The world of possibilities that have just opened up before me, I see no end in sight.