The other day I left work for lunch. I was heading down the high street to the shops, about a ten minute walk, when suddenly… I was there! I was at the shops. And I couldn’t for the life of me remember getting there.
It was like the intervening ten minutes had just disappeared, vanished into thin air. I could remember setting off, then my mind wandered, and then I arrived.
I realised that, whilst my mind had been busy thinking about things, my sub-conscious had been in charge of the rather important task of getting my body from A to B. And that worried me a little because, mine though it is, I don’t think my sub-conscious always has my best interests at heart.
It dawned on me that, for that ten minutes, I had not been practicing my Mindfulness. I had been locked in a Thought Pattern, and much like the landing pattern of an airplane on a cloudy day, rather than coming in to land my thoughts had just been going round and round and round and ultimately getting me nowhere.
**It should be noted that I wasn’t even having a useful thought. As I recall I was lost in some fantasy discussion about something in work that was never going to happen (and indeed never did).**
I’ve tried over the past few years to cut down on such occurrences, as they are not helpful and can even cause us problems in our daily lives. Think about it: Ever gotten in your car and driven in the wrong direction? Or gone shopping and come back with almost none of the things you went out for in the first place? Ever found yourself in the middle of an argument and wondered why you were arguing so vehemently about the ‘proper’ way to make a cup of tea? All can be attributed to a lack of Mindfulness.
To practice Mindfulness is to keep your attention in the here and now. To be aware of what you are doing as you are doing it, and to not get lost in thoughts of the past, future, or a now that isn’t real. And such practice starts with meditation.
**For a detailed explanation on Mindfulness check out this blog post by the Buddhist monk Wayne Ren-Cheng.**
You have to sit and practice observing your thoughts when there are no distractions, so that when you do go out into the world with all it’s hustle and bustle and clamor and noise, you’re better able to catch yourself becoming lost in a pointless Thought Pattern, and to bring yourself back to the reality of daily life before you step out into the road and get run over by the Number 37 bus (be that literally, or metaphorically speaking).
I’ll certainly be trying to practice a bit more Mindfulness from now on. At least by doing that I’ll be the master of my own fate (as much as any man can be, lol) and not just casually handing over the reigns to the careless, back-seat driver that is my sub-conscious self.