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Be Mindful (Part II: Say What?)

January 7, 2015

There’s mindfulness all over the place these days, in print. For instance, articles in the popular press, such as “Mindfulness and the Art of Hedge Fund Management,” “Mindful Lives of the Rich and Famous,” and in the academic press, “Obstructivist Mindfulness in the New Republican Majority.”  See also Steve Jobs.  But how scary is this?!

It’s easier to write about it than to be it. But it’s an important part of this novel, so I’ll say just a bit about what it means to me (your narrator, Old Man Thinking Out Loud).

First, by “mind,” I personally mean a cognitive activity of the entire organism, and beyond. Even if it’s centrally and largely an activity of the brain, my brain is functioning, both consciously and unconsciously, in unison (more or less, depending on my “state of mind”) with all the other “present” parts of my body, including its guests. The whole population.

Plus, my body doesn’t end its functioning at its perceived border. And then there’s the extent to which I am being thought by my environment, and probably the whole she-bang; i.e. I’m not totally separate, in my mass/energy, from the whole being.

And of course other people, near and far, are having an effect on, participating in, my state of mind.

Nevertheless, with regard to mindfulness, I’m mostly me, mostly unconscious, but most importantly conscious, including especially my more or less healthy ego. The point, of course, is to be healthy, incluing my ego, in tune with it all.

So I have to deal with the ego part of me. Like the ego part of everybody, ego-me tries to stay sharp for its survival, and then its self-aggrandizement (it’s very egotisitcal). It tends to be wary, jumpy, self-pumping, assertive, and aggressive. It overcompensates for its feeling of insecurity by building a sense of entitlement. Which is to say (turning to my main source for this episode, David Richo in Shadow Dance), the unhealthy ego is characterized by “control, fear, attachment, the need to fix things, obsession with an outcome, blame of others, and shame about ourselves.”

Hey, I know that guy!

And just as you would guess (if you don’t go into denial), when that stuff is dominating my mind, especially if I don’t get really conscious of it, I tend to become obsessively scared, of pain, of change, of challenge—especially of “others,” who are surely out to get me, or get what I’ve got. Then I become obsessively “attached” to what and/or whom I’ve got, or wish I got. What a screw-up. Anxiety much? You betcha. Stress? Addiction? Well, at least obsession. So that’s what I have to deal with. That’s why I try to cultivate mindfulness.

I try to deal with the frightened, obsessive, deluded, denying, bullying, childish, unhealthy ego-me by being very conscious of what’s going on, right now (which is when things actually are going on), including bringing unconscious parts of my mind’s irrational activity into consciousness. Then I’m more fully “present,” living in reality. I’m dealing with what actually exists—which reflects that I actually exist (with healthier ego) along with it.

Then I feel a lot better about things, because my state of “mind” is healthier. I’m able to re-imagine things, including the “other;” and my perspective changes for the better (in this sentence I’ve reflected James Hillman). I’m more present for myself, I can attend to myself better, and I can be more present for and to others (including my guests and my environment—near and far).

And Richo, btw, is very good on the positive “shadow” aspects of myself, in my unconscious, that I can become conscious of, to the benefit of all.

(In Part I of this episode, the narrator thinks out loud about “some basics” of mindfulness, in Part III the “how” and Part IV the “why.”  See also the importance of the triple imagination.)

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