If you are a human being living in the 21st century you have probably been exposed to a life-philosophy/holistic preaching called mindfulness. To be short, mindfulness is being fully present and aware in any given moment. According to Buddah, mindfulness is one of the steps on the eight-fold path to enlightenment. Buddah reasoned that mindfulness eliminates the suffering experienced when living in the past or present and allows one to obtain complete fulfillment. Now, not to undermine the teachings of Buddah or anything, but I have a theory that practicing mindfulness during certain moments in your life can cause far more suffering than would a brief mental departure from the situation.
Here is a little back story… I recently started a new job that requires me to stand for hours and do repetitive work. This is when I began to think about mindfulness and how it could help me get through the present monotony of my work. I am handling beautiful flowers and being fully present to their delicate simplicity has certainly increased my happiness. However, the other day we were working with mini cactuses for Cinco de Mayo and, as my shift progressed, I accumulated more and more micro-cactus thorns in my fingers and palms. After a few hours my hands were ablaze with burning and itching.
It was at this moment that I encountered a mindfulness road-block.
I tried to stay with the pain and take away its power but it only grew. The hours turned to days and each movement was more excruciating than the last. I believe that if I had stayed mentally aware of my suffering I would have spiraled into a pit of crippling sadness. This is when a question popped into my head:
But what if the moment sucks?
Off the top of my head I can come up with a large list of un-pleasantries that may not merit a fully mindful approach:
- During a colonoscopy
- Immediately after the breaking of any limb or skin
- When someone farts on the crowded bus
- The duration of a migraine
- When someone is unnecessarily yelling at you
- When you have the stomach flu and are doubled over the toilet
- When you are sick at work
- When you go to eat something that appears to be hummus only to discover that it is made entirely of fish (aka Fish Mousse)
Am I totally off base here?
I think that there is a different type of meditative action that one can take during moments of distress that will not result in a twisted and masochistic mental process. My mother calls it ‘going to your happy place’. It is an exercise where you think of something, someone or somewhere that makes you happy and psychically immerse yourself in that scene. This technique has seen me through many a bus fart and, like mindfulness, it is something that is with you where ever you are. Should we really strive to be fully mindful at the expense of our happiness and sanity?
What are your thoughts on mindfulness?