Sometimes I strongly dislike mindfulness. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. Like talking myself out of a relationship, I convince myself that mindfulness is bad for me. I tell myself that it is normalizing and will turn me into a normal person (whatever that means). I tell myself that it is bad for creativity and the more I practice mindfulness the less I will want to write or make things (I once had a girlfriend who told me that meditation destroyed her art career). I know that poetry is born out of stillness, but I talk myself out of daily meditation almost more successfully than I can do anything else. Everyone is meditating these days, so typical and self-helpy, I tell myself and as a result I want to have nothing to do with mindfulness or meditation. Artists and writers need to live in a fertile ground of deep thought, I tell myself. Mindfulness and meditation threaten my very ability to remain in a place of creative exploration. Not true. To paraphrase David Lynch: You don’t have to be suffering to create a character who is suffering.
But then I endure several days where I am stuck in a continual, and non-linear roller coaster of thought. I struggle to remain happy and as a result I create unnecessary problems that don’t need to exist. In my effort to remain creative and engaged with my thought process, I notice that all kinds of difficulties arise. Few of my thoughts seem profound or useful. It is just an endless circus ride filled with fragmentation and judgment. I feel upset about things. Angry.
And then for whatever reason, I force myself to sit down and start practicing mindfulness again. After five minutes or so spent sitting in silent meditation, I start to understand what Dylan Thomas said about darkness being a way and light being a place. I focus on my breathing; breathe in and out (repeat). My thinking loosens its grip over me and I notice a slight smile etched on my face. I feel relief and awareness start to creep back in. I hear a train in the distance and feel the pulsating sensations in my body. A space opens back up within which I can breathe again. And then it happens, I am reminded of why mindfulness is so important for me and everyone else in my life. Shit.
I know that I will try and talk myself out of mindfulness again. This is what I do best. But like a meditation teacher told me once while I was on a month long silent meditation retreat and complained about my inability to keep my focus in the present moment: If you go away from the breath one thousand times, bring your self back to the breathe a thousand and one times. Oh yeah, I almost forgot.