Here’s the secret about meditation no one likes to admit: it just reminds us of something we too easily forget.
Contrary to all the hype about “mindfulness,” you don’t need to buy it, read about it, or go out and get it. (That’s capitalism for you.)
No, you’re already mindful — right now.
Think about the last time you had a deep conversation with a friend. Or explored a new city. Or had great sex. There was nowhere else to be or nothing in particular to do. You were fully, deeply alive.
You were born mindful, shivering in the cold air and bright light. As a baby, you didn’t worry about the hospital bill or where you came from or what other people thought about you. You simple communicated what you felt — you cried, laughed, smiled.
But as our brains develop, we began to make up stories about our feelings. Stories that take us away from the present moment and into the past or future. Stories that make us forget that we’re already mindful.
angel Kyodo williams, the Zen priest, says these stories fill up our mind as if it were “that drawer that collects everything in your house. They’re moving at an incredible rate of speed. And, for the most part, we almost never get the opportunity to observe them and sort through them.”
“You say, ‘Oh, but wait a minute, someone lived in this house before me. And some of that stuff is not mine. Actually, this is not mine. That’s my mom’s. This is not mine; that’s the inheritance of white supremacy.’ And we have no real way of being able to discern what is mine, what is yours, what we’re holding collectively, what I have inherited, what I have taken on as a measure of protection, of a way to cope at some point in my life.”
When we feel safe and supported — like hanging with a best friend — we allow ourselves to let the stories go. We don’t fantasize or worry about the past or future. We connect. We taste the complexity of the coffee and smell the incoming snowstorm and feel this person’s love. We remember that we’re already mindful.
Yet, most of the time— most of our lives — we forget. When we’re walking to the store, sending an email, looking at Facebook, we’re off somewhere else.
Instead of opening and connecting, we separate, close off, clench up. Our mind spins stories. We try to appear a certain way or make others feel a certain way about us. Our mind is full of thinking but we’re actually mindless.
That’s what makes meditation so powerful, even if it’s only just a way to remember. You can do it by yourself, pretty much anywhere, for free, to wake yourself back up.