Sunday, 23 April 2017

Would You Just... Leave Next Tuesday Alone?

Folks who are into the whole mindfulness thing often talk about the importance of bringing yourself back to the present moment. Back to now. This is a bit confusing, because you're always in the present moment. It is always now. It's not like unless you pay close attention you will suddenly wake up and find you're in the Palaeolithic era, or in next Tuesday.

But you can find yourself thinking about the Palaeolithic era, which is I guess what they mean. Although of course the thinking that you're doing about the Palaeolithic era is happening now, so you've not really gone anywhere.

I'm not being quite as facetious as all of this sounds. The point of mindfulness is simply to pay more direct attention in your life, as you live it. And when you do start paying attention, start dropping in on yourself, you notice that, although you actually exist in a completely tranquil empty realm of pure being we call the present, in practice you're probably just off worrying about what Brenda said about you last week.

The phrase "lost in thoughts" is apposite here. It's not that you consciously chose to bend the full weight of your intellect towards solving the pressing issue of whether Brenda is or is not in fact a total bitch, it's that without meaning to do it your thoughts wandered off and got lost circling the same old boring paths.

Not that I'm saying thoughts are bad. The intellect is obviously a wonderful tool. Without it we would be sitting in mounds of our own poo mashing our fists into our faces watching BBC Three all day. But the intellect is such a tiny sliver of intelligence, of mind. Out of all the things to be aware of -- the soft sighing of the breeze in the trees, the curve of the quilt cover on the creaking bed, the taste of green tea on the tongue, the glugging of heart, touch of pyjama on skin, interoception of hunger, proprioception of limbs, tiredness, uncertainty, gentle aching of soul, tension melting from shoulders, breath swaying back and forth, back and forth -- out of all these many noticings I bet you that if you drop in on yourself you'll 99.9999% of the time find you're just thinking, by which I mean pointlessly abusing that tool of conceptual touch that imagines a reality, creates a model in your head, of a conversation, a possibility, a Brenda, and then rotates it, manipulates it, takes it apart and puts it back together a million different ways, grinding ever on and on and on.

Which, like I said, has helped get us where we are now. It's cool. But it's at least worth noticing that it happens, I reckon. How often we're chuntering away in imagination pouring over some invented map rather than living here in the actual territory, the present moment, this silent expansive clarity of thusness in which all is as it should be.

And maybe by simply noticing we can readjust the balance and occasionally let the Palaeolithic rest and next Tuesday arrive when it arrives, and have now to be present for whatever it brings.

I can't much help with the Brenda thing though, I'm afraid.

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