I am starting a new thread here mainly for purposes of my own catharsis. It is my intention, at least at this point, to make regular contributions. Of course, if anyone else has anything to add, they are more than welcome. If you have any input, please contribute.
Over a year ago I decided to deal head-on with my self-diagnosed adult attention disorder, (ADD). The inability to stay focused was becoming too stressful. I found myself sitting around watching the clock tick, yet I couldn’t keep “on task” with any project I started. Nothing was getting done and just starting something was becoming depressing.
The smart thing to do was probably to get professional help, so instead I decided to try to heal myself, at least as a first try. Cognitive therapy and pharmaceuticals (UGH) might be the approved way to go but I decided to try meditation first.
18 months and countless self-help books later, I still can’t bring myself to a regular, formal meditation program. But, along the way, I discovered informal mindfulness. Yes, I know it is the “Fad” right now. It is hard to navigate modern social trends without “tripping over” somebody extolling the benefits of mindfulness.
Let me add my voice to the chorus.
"In our relationships, how much can we allow them to become new, and how much do we cling to what they used to be yesterday?" ~ Ram Das
How can we even know if we are in autopilot in our relationships and not even paying attention? Situations change, and then we ask "When did that happen?"
"The fulfillment we have in owning, in desiring, is temporary and illusory, because there is nothing we can have that we will not lose eventually. As so there is always fear." ~ Sharon Salzberg
"When I argue with reality, I lose - but only 100% of the time. How do I know that the wind should blow? It's blowing!" ~ Byron Katie
Stated in the negative:
"Unconsciousness, unawareness, is the cause of attachment." ~ Osho
Or more clearly:
"The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is." ~ Eckhart Tolle
Stated in the positive, as an affirmation:
"With meditation comes the realisation that 'It is what it is.' That doesn't mean we invite it to be this way. It doesn't even mean we like it. Or that we won't work to make future change. In this moment now though: 'I am here. This is my life. I choose not to argue with reality.' "~ Jason Garner
Yesterday's affirmation from Jason Garner got me to thinking about some of the criticisms that have recently been thrown at meditation in general and mindfulness in particular. It is being said that the mindfulness movement is selfish and antisocial, that the benefits derived by the individual detract from the good of the group. By accepting that reality "is what it is", nonjudgementally, we may be less damaged by self-inflicted emotional reactions but at the same time less motivated to attend to the fixable social issues that caused the damage to begin with. The mindfulness response to this is that the technique allows a person to become more level-headed and thoughtful, allowing him/her to identify more sustainable solutions than likely from a knee-jerk emotional reaction which might just exacerbate the situation.
But, it seems to me, that this answer ducks the original accusation. It assumes that the mindful person actively wants to use his peace and equanimity to confront an issue. Meditation advocates often speak of a quality known as Metta, a Pali term that is usually translated as Loving Kindness. It often seems like they assume we will automatically find it once we strip off the overlaying toxic thought pattern we cling to. But is this a given?
To be continued....
Every meditation program that I have looked into has at some point introduced a Loving/Kindness meditation which specifically focuses the mind on these thoughts with the objective of enhancing them. In psychology, they call this priming. A thought is intentionally placed where your subconscious will trip over it and tell your conscious mind to do something. If we are destined to find compassion when we meditate, why do we have to force our mind to work on it?
In Christian theology, the doctrine of original sin suggests that we would all act in a selfish way if we were stripped of our social constraints. Christian apologist, C.. S. Lewis infers humans would not express a sense of fair play without influence from God. So under it all, are we good or evil? I can't begin to answer that here, but mindfulness allows me to be better at whatever I do. If that entails making the world a better place, I will have to make that a focus point.
"Compassion doesn't say 'I'm with you because I pity you' or 'because I feel sorry for you.' Instead the message of compassion is an acknowledgement of our shared humanity. It says 'I am with you because I am you - I recognize you in me and me in you. And we're in this together.' " ~ Jason Garner