Here’s an important question to ask ourselves. Why mindfulness?
I’m going to be honest here. Since I began practicing meditation and then later Centering Prayer in 1996, there have been many times I wanted to (and a few times I did) jump ship. When it comes right down to it, the temptation to live inside the storylines going through our head is very strong.
Why is that?
- They seem to bring us comfort.
- They reinforce our beliefs.
- They solidify are sense of reality and self.
Who doesn’t want that? Yet, consider these words from Pema Chodron:
If you revisit the memory of something distressing over and over, rehashing what happened and obsessing on the storyline, it becomes part of your static identity. You’re just strengthening your propensity to experience yourself as the one who was wrong, as the victim. You’re strengthening a pre-existing propensity to blame others – your parents and anyone else – as the ones who wronged you…It’s like pouring kerosene on an ember to make it blaze. Without the words, without the repetitive thoughts, the emotions don’t last longer than one and a half minutes.
One minute and a half minutes! In other words, we reinforce our suffering by rehashing our stories. If we didn’t do that, our emotional turmoil would generally pass quickly.
Let’s think about emotions for a minute. Feelings and emotions are highly charged.
- Sometimes the charge is positive. Like when we feel giddy about landing a new job.
- Sometimes the charge is negative. Like learning that a close friend has died.
- Sometimes it’s a little of both. Like when we’re both excited and terrified that we got that new job.
What are we to do with all these feelings?
If we can’t allow them to just be, then our tendency is to bury them under our storylines. This happens mostly at a subconscious level – until we begin to see what we’re doing, that is.
So, why mindfulness?
We practice mindfulness to be present with ourselves, reality, and for many, God – to allow what is true for us in the moment to just be. Because even though it’s not always easy, at least we’re a little closer to what’s real. And this sets us free.