Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mindfulness? Or just not caring?

Well, it has been a while.  Every time I come back to write, it feels like a lifetime, that so much has happened since the last time, and I hardly know where to begin.  And then I look at the dates.  It has only been three weeks.  How much could happen?  My internal life has a different sense of time.  I have become aware of every little thing going on inside me, attuned to every physical and emotional detail (and now and then a mental one too).  Every day feels like a long journey.

Speaking of awareness...Last time I wrote about the new opportunity of stress management classes, hoping that would renew my hope and help overcome my disappointment with the fish oil fiasco.  I went to the first meeting a couple of weeks ago, and there is another one tomorrow.  The workshop is focusing on mindfulness.  When I started, I wasn't sure what that meant, but the doctor recommended a few books.  I started reading Mindfulness in Plain English (Gunaratana) this week, and I have to say, I'm ambivalent.

Mindfulness seems to focus around the idea of meditation (vipassana) that increases one's awareness of reality, insight, truth, to the point that one breaks the constant cycle of behaviors based on desire and fear.  Grasping/Aversion he calls it.  We want what we want, we avoid what we don't want, and we act accordingly.  The right way to live "mindfully" is being aware of these desires/fears, but not needing to act on them.

Ok, here is where I have a problem.  Doesn't that imply not really caring about anything?  Like most of my life up to this point has been meaningless drivel?  And maybe it has been.  But I cannot imagine a life where I don't act to avoid the bad stuff or (and more importantly) act to make things better, not just for me but for the people I love.

Here's what gives me hope and makes me want to try it.

"Meditation is called the Great Teacher.  It is the cleansing crucible fire that works slowly but surely, through understanding.  The greater your understanding, the more flexible and tolerant, the more compassionate you can be.  you become like a perfect parent or an ideal teacher.  You are ready to forgive and forget.  You feel love toward others because you understand them, and you understand others because you have understood yourself.  You have looked deeply inside and seen self-illusion and your own human failings, seen your own humanity and learned to forgive and to love.  When you have learned compassion for yourself, compassion for others is automatic.  An accomplished meditator has achieved a profound understanding of life, and he or she inevitably relates to the world with a deep and uncritical love." (15)

Now that's a worthy goal.  So I'm going to try it.  But this little voice inside me says, "but what do I do with myself right now?"  Just sit and breathe?  The transition is hard.  It's hard to look forward to each day when you know that it is such a slow process.  I have not always had great staying power.  I just hope I can make it through the beginning until I can actually see some progress.

For now, I'm just going to watch my daughter dance and be happy.