An actual conversation last night…
She: “Do you do Mindfulness?”
Me: “Yes. It happens.”
She: “Oh great! I meditate a lot. What’s your practice?”
Me: “I don’t have a practice. I play.”
She: *genuinely baffled face* “I don’t understand. Do you have a game you do? Do you mean you’re playful? What does play have to do with this?”
This was at a lecture on ‘better decision-making skills’, given at a super swanky social club for the new money titans of San Francisco. So why was I there? Sometimes weirdo artists like me, politely called the eccentric creatives, get invited as potential catalytic elements.
With plenty of time before the presentation, my friend and I settle in between an aging hippie in expensive jeans and a thirty-something woman with hair highlighted to perfection. We ask the woman why she’s here. She tells us she’s researching mindfulness. She tells us all about her meditation and asks us if we have a practice. My friend tells her that she meditates and just leaves it at that. Then she asked me. That’s how the conversation above happened.
Lately, I’ve been developing an increasing allergy to people talking about “mindfulness.”
It feels like a buzzword for humblebrag, about how evolved the speaker is. Once upon a time, not so long ago, the well-to-do town folk used to talk about how much they went to church and which church they go to. Then they’d ask you. Such a loaded question. It feels like that.
Yes, paying attention to the now, and clearing your head so you notice the world, is a good idea.
So is drinking clean water frequently and peeing a clear stream regularly. But we don’t need to announce this detail to do it, and do it well.
No, it’s not easy — for any of us. It’s super hard to not be over-run by thought-squirrels. I’d love to talk about the challenges and how to make it happen better.
But mostly I just hear people telling *at* me how much they do this.
It’s like talking about food. It’s also not easy to always eat healthily. I’d love to exchange ideas and experiences on this. But I don’t really need to be told at me how you eat such healthy, organic, locally sourced, harm-free meals.
Somewhere along the way, “practice mindfulness” came to mean that we do all the cool Eastern religion stuff but kill the gods and strip the cultures and the historical sufferings that bore the rituals.
Somewhere along the way, “practice mindfulness” came to mean some commonly agreed form of stylized inertness and shutting the world out.
I thought being full into one’s mind was being in the world.
That comes in a lot of ways.
Kids are geniuses at this. So are people who love dancing. And people who take walks in the park… play fetch with their dogs… paint… eat fruit slowly… play tennis… go fly a kite… stare at the sunset… Just play. It’s ok.