“You are being mindless, man.”
“What?! Me?” I replied since I was not used to someone saying this to me.
“Yes, you are being mindless. Wake up man, come on.”
I was talking about something in the past. Something I did not like. I was going on and on, probably filled with judgment and vitriol. Then I dropped the cup of tea I was drinking and that is when he said it.
You are being mindless.
I was pissed at first. I did not like what I was feeling. I was at war with my experience.
A minute or so passed, I don’t know how long exactly.
Once I accepted where I was at, I thought to myself, “Oh yeah, I am not being present at all.”
I think that I have my head in the clouds a lot. More than I would like to admit. Even though I confess to feeling like I have this mindfulness stuff down, I often do not. Mindfulness seems to be as fleeting as any other muscle if not regularly used. Before you know it, your ability to be present is gone. Atrophied. Even though you think you are present you are not. You, like everyone else, are lost in thought. Instead you are planning, judging, comparing, interpreting, condemning, worrying, dreaming, trying to figure things out. You are anywhere and everywhere except right here. At least this is often true for me.
Just try it now. Let go of thinking for a minute. Just let it go. Come out of the sticky web. The cave. The illusion of control. Just feel your feet on the ground. Become aware of your breathing. Notice what you are hearing. Just let that voice in your head go for one minute. Just one minute. Breathe in and breathe out. Get a sense of how different it feels to be present. Know that it is within this space that so many of your difficulties can be solved.
When we are present, we are aware of details. We are aware of how the details are always changing. The faces we see, the sky above our heads, the sounds we hear, our problems, the sensations in our bodies, the light and colors- all of it in a continual state of flux. When we are mindful we are aware of the changes that are always going on around us. We see them as they happen. When we are mindless, we are not aware of these changes. We barley notice them at all and are often reactive to the changes when we do notice them. This is what is meant by the idea that we are often being led around by forces outside and inside our ourselves. When we are unaware of the changes that are always going on within and outside of ourselves we become reactive to them. We are being led like prisoners. When we become mindful, we stop the cycle of being led around and come into a place of awareness. We are aware of what is going on in and around ourselves. It is difficult to be reactive when we are in this space. Instead we mindfully respond to whatever arises in the moment.
But still my head is often in the clouds. I am often being led around. Just yesterday I was holding an electronic gadget in my hands and thinking about something that I wanted to write. I dropped the gadget. Broke it. This happens with my iPhone a lot. I drop it because I am thinking about something else. I remember once when my friend got a new iPhone I asked him if he planned to get a protective cover for it. He said no. He said that would defeat the purpose because his beloved iPhone was his opportunity to practice mindfulness. To stay continual present with the sensation of the object in his hand, instead of lost in the thoughts in his head.
I bump my head into things. Sometimes I break dishes when I am washing them. I trip when on walks. Sometimes I will catch myself driving and realize that I was not aware of my hands on the steering wheel, my body in the seat, my foot against the pedal. I knock my favorite watch into things- walls, car doors. All of this is obviously because I am being led around. My head is in the clouds and I am caught up in some kind of frenetic thought process. dreaming, thinking about what I am going to do next. It is my mind. The mind that I was born with. This is what it does. Even after twenty plus years of mindfully trying to get it under control.
“You are being mindless.” I was thinking about what he said as I cleaned up the tea. I was perturbed with myself. Bothered. Why cant I be more mindful? I teach this stuff, come on Randall! All these judgmental and critical thoughts going through my head, directed right at myself. How embarrassing.
And then I just stopped. I took a deep breathe. I let it go. I just stopped. Focused my attention on my breathing. Became aware of the sounds that I was hearing, my feet on the ground. The irritation in my chest. I redirected my attention away from my thoughts. I came back to where I was at. It was like I had pushed a refresh button within myself. I smiled a bit and said thank you as the server finished cleaning up my mess.
I let it go and came back to the present moment. It felt like returning somewhere that I was happy to be.
My friend smiled back at me and said, “Your back. Good. Should we go walk?”
I had a meditation teacher once who would always say, “If you go away from the breath a thousand times, bring yourself back to the breath a thousand and one times.”
Let it go. Come back to the breath.