MindFULL versus mindful
Mindfulness gets a lot of attention, and for good reason. It’s an incredibly valuable skill; to be able to intentionally rest your awareness on the reality of what you’re thinking, feeling and doing.
It’s radical to be able to be with one real ‘thing’ at a time, especially in a society that prioritizes many things getting done quickly; this often leads to multitasking.
Multitasking is the idea that by doing more things at once we will get more done. However, multitasking is a misnomer because our brains can’t actually do more than one thing at a time; instead our brains just switch really quickly from one thing to another…kind of like a distressed squirrel. This quick switching actually changes our brains and not necessarily for the better*
The amount of space that the pressure to perform takes up in our minds can be overwhelming or energy zapping in all aspects of our beings; which is why mindfulness is such an amazing skill. The ability to use techniques to transform a full mind into mindfulness to ‘find’ a sense of peace and space in our crazy busy lives is why vipassana, mantra, pranayama, asana, and many other yogic techniques, when done well, truly help people.
That is valuable beyond measure…but there’s more experiences to explore,
internal spaces to discover,
and a deeper understanding to arise…
Places and spaces that are brimming with connection, fullness, life, peace, love and other ‘magical’ expressions.
The direct experience of theses things is often different than our thoughts on these things; it’s often our thoughts and mind that act as a divisive knife. But if we can learn the skill of mindfulness and then keep exploring and deepening our ability for awareness and presence, we can ‘unearth’ (or perhaps more correctly re-earth) something even more fulfilling: the life ‘after’ mindfulness.
I use ‘after’ because like many profound things in life and yoga practice there’s an irony or a paradox and mindfulness is not exception. The great twist I speak of is that in the spaces with the most fullness are often experience before our mind gets involved with this moment but the understanding of this skill doesn’t often arise until after we have mindfulness skills.
Once we have learned to acknowledge and rest** in the reality of what’s going on within our minds, we begin to see the spaces in-between the thoughts, judgements, boxes, and narrative we’ve got going on. Like the natural pause between the inhale and exhale there are natural spaces pauses in our mind before thinking gets involved.
In those spaces and places lies a fertile field of presence filled with all the various flowers (and weeds) of life. To me, that’s where the experience of Yoga lives.
** I use the word rest as a way to describe the full, to the best of our ability, acknowledgement without struggling against what’s really there. Example: I feel angry about something but then tell myself that I shouldn’t be anger about and struggle against the reality of the anger. It’s restful in the sense that I am able to see the anger without having to make it go away.