This Sunday I’m writing a reflection rather than a story as this week I had some interesting discussions with a client who is battling with various issues. Her big concern was that she didn’t know how to practice ‘mindfulness’ and this was bothering her as learning how to stay calm and centered is vital for her well being.
Straight away I felt a little internal resistance as mindfulness is always a word that bothers me. I tend to think visually and to also feel concepts, so the word mindfulness hits me like a wrong note and throws the balance off from the centre and up to the head.
“What is it you want to achieve?” I asked.
“This calm, this deep peace I get when I’m here having a healing session,” was the reply.
“Do you ever feel this at any other time?”
“Well yes when I’m talking a walk, or doing something that absorbs me.”
“So what changes when you try to practice what you believe to be mindfulness?”
“Well I sit there I don’t know what is supposed to happen. I’m not sure what it means to be mindful and then the whole thing makes me feel stressed!”
“Aha..” I said. “There we have it.
The discussion and session that followed cleared things up for my client but got me thinking about the words we use to describe spiritual practices and how they can cause confusion.
The word centered is used for a reason as the feeling you want is exactly that, a grounded, connected feeling, not a thought. Feeling is from the heart, not the mind. It is the mind’s nature to think. That’s its job. To try to get it to stop is impossible and as Byron Katie would exclaim – ‘Hopeless!”
The real point of mindfulness is really heartfulness. It is why the old wisdom saying of: Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water was used by the Zen masters to get their students to become absorbed in feeling the ‘now’ of the action and the need for continual practice.
It wasn’t to learn a method of mind control, it was to learn how to slip gently away from the mind, to let it do what it does while tip-toeing off to find a quiet place in the heart that is unswayed by the incessant flow of thought. They may have called it mindfulness, but really they are referring to an experience that can only come from heartfulness. In this quiet place of the heart a connection is made between the finite self and the infinite and in that connection the self is at once self and other, being and universe, breath and breather.
Prem Rawat Maharaji teaches that just one second in this space can literally save the entire day ahead as the power of one moment of complete fusion of the self with the infinite resets us on such a deep level that profound change can occur. I see this every day in healing as the whole aim of what I do is to get the person to feel this place so that their own ability to find their way there and to heal and reset can kick in.
And this is the essence of conscious living, because it is ultimately heartful living. I prefer the word conscious to mindful as it is a much bigger word. To awaken into the consciousness of a heart centered connection brings the awareness that we are much more than mind, that we can choose not to be swept along or away by our thoughts. But we make a big mistake if we think we can control thought. Thoughts will bubble along all the time.
The real strength in heartful connection is that it strengthens our whole being to know what we truly are, how we feel, what we feel and what feels true for us. From this place we have the clarity and strength of feeling to question thoughts and change faulty thought patterns. But just like weeding the garden, heart connection has to be experienced regularly to prevent the pesky thoughts, the ones that cause us pain, from growing back.
This is why any daily centering practice is so good for us. And the words we choose to describe it are just words after all, as at the end of the day it’s almost impossible to describe a feeling. I just know that sometimes words can get in the way and I can’t do the word mindful, it’s too full of mind for me. Too confusing and just a little too far from the heart.
What do you think or feel?