Lately, I’ve been thinking as much about why we need mindfulness as how to achieve it. The great sages and many a fortune cookie say it’s necessary to be mindful of the present because that’s where life happens. Far be it from me to elaborate on the words inside a fortune cookie (or of a great sage, for that matter), but I think the present moment is not only where life happens, but it’s also where we get to actively participate in our own lives. That little addition is really empowering for me, particularly when I’m caught in the throes of errant thoughts about green tea and its health benefits, or whether my grocery list is too long, or when Jon Snow finally gets to find out about his parents. It makes me feel like life isn’t just happening to me but that I get to do something about it. Let me further explain my theory.
Human beings are pretty awesome-sauce, evolutionarily speaking. While the opposable thumbs thing was epic, the makeover our brains got was pretty impressive too. We have the ability to sift through information, tune-in and out at will, categorize quickly to make sense of the world, and to remember the past and anticipate the future. And because we’re not escaping mountain lions or hunting buffalo, all that brainpower is pretty much unfettered, to be used as we see fit. So, why were mere mortals gifted with such super powers? Presumably to inform the present and make it more to our liking. For what other reason would we logically have them? I mean, certainly, we could use them to regret the past, idealize the future, and incessantly judge the present, but that would just be silly. Oh, wait…
Clearly, we’ve missed the point. We’ve gone rogue and we’re no longer using our super powers for good. We envision bad outcomes and get all control freakish, uselessly trying to avoid them. We put ourselves in boxes because we’re obliviously invested in the past. We allow our own inner voice to speak unkindly to us. We absolutely need to wake up and pay attention because in doing so, we have the opportunity to use our minds to make our lives more beautiful. We can learn what we didn’t love so much yesterday and change it, dream of what we might love a little more tomorrow and take steps toward it, and savor the moment we’re in because we’re making our mark on it as informed participants in the universe.
Over the next few weeks, I will certainly share more about the how - a series of posts that detail some of my own strategies for being more present (stuff that works for me in real life – you know, with work, and relationships, and Facebook, and statements like “Don’t you dare put those eggs in your slippers!”). But let us not forget the why - why we’re here in this present moment – to use what we have to make our environments brighter. I would absolutely be honored to hear your thoughts and ideas so please chime in on this and the coming posts and let’s help each other out!
Love in all things,
P.S. Check out our inaugural experience, Dinner and Dessert in the Dark, for a great opportunity to practice being here now!