I know, we are being inundated. From this account to that account, none of us can get away. To be mindful and free, open and breathing: there’s a buzz surrounding it, right?
And to your dismay, no, I am not going to follow that up by bemoaning how it’s just a fad, a rage, or on trend. Actually, somethings we want to be on trend. And that is just it: why can’t we make it trendy, without farce or mockery; that people are finally being allowed to express their mindfulness routine or regime, their spirituality and slow yet steady rhythm with those around them (and beyond)? More so, as an educator, I feel the blurred lines between the mind, faith and the secular world we live in more and more, is becoming, well, even more blurry.
With the current environment we are manifesting within, there’s a certainty that every teacher, with their lanyard now hanging shyly away, is experiencing a wave of sentiments. Whatever it is you’re deciding to do, though, is okay.
So this mindfulness here; it’s reached the western world with a real oomph. From influencer, to celebrity, to scientist and even in the educational domain, to be mindful, to bring focus to that in your sphere has become much the norm for many. No doubt, many philosophers and theologians have mandated such practices for thousands of years, with no marketing, no url and no like count. But it existed. Because that’s just it: it is about the existence inside and outside of your mind. It’s not about control; rather, about welcoming in whatever the motion is telling you, riding it, and dealing with it as, is. In fact, allow me to change the word ‘deal’ here, as it insinuates negative connotations of having to fix problems upon problems. You’re allowing it, as, is.
Hello uncomfortable affair. Welcome. Let’s see what we’re going to do with you.
And of course, lest we forget that being mindful is not somewhere we run to when a discomfort occurs, no. I think this is often the catch: we humans can be so quick to jump to a higher force or vibration when things are squeezing us in the wrong way, that when comfort calls, we don’t acknowledge it. We do this with our pupils, with our colleagues. Mediating a problem between the two crowds, and now you’ve made it a party. Blame or fault is not being thrown here however, more an awareness of engrained behaviours we now, perhaps, are starting to recognise, mindfully.
So what do you picture when someone speaks of being mindful? I can guarantee this question is too loaded for me to quickly answer for you. I could have put words in your mouth and said, “sitting down, eyes closed, breathing and listening to an app.” No doubt, that image probably did make a preview in some minds; however, who’s to know who is reading this article? Language aside, the reader of this article, (well, you) could be sat anywhere in the world.
Let us picture it.
One may be sat in South Asia, perhaps somewhere in Sri Lanka or India, where mindfulness has been intertwined with the religion Hinduism for millennia. From the Bhagavad Gita’s discussions of yoga to Vedic meditation, the history of Hinduism reads in part like a history of mindfulness. But as always, history cannot speak for itself and say, “hey, I started it!”.
Or perhaps there’s a being, nestled somewhere in Nepal, or China. Cross legged, he or she faces a golden Buddha statue and gong. They too, are practicing mindfulness. It’s important to note that Buddhism is not a religion, but rather a school of thought and philosophy.
And then we travel (metaphorically for now), to Egypt, or Turkey, or even the depths of the desert in Algeria. Here you see a spinning being, spinning so much their outer shell becomes blurred: but you can definitely feel it. It’s imageless but speaks a thousand words. This could be dhikr, or remembrance, for many Muslims. And you guessed it, mindfulness.
And the list could go on, and on. Religion and philosophy are carried and practiced by those who announce their connection to it. The secular behaviour that comes out of it, is permissible too. I think to be mindful, is also to thoughtful, curious and inquisitive about the origins of what’s helping you in your journey of reflection and wellness. A give back thanks, to be able to give back in your own sphere.
So caan one be mindful, religious and reap the psychological benefits of this act? You may read and research as many individual cases of such studies, but as those with a faith may tell you, it’s a feeling that is often times inexplicable. Just as a secular yoga session leaves you feeling rejuvenated with a new found spring in your step, so does someone who is practising it with their own scriptural mantra.
The idea here is to be mindful (pun intended, wholly) that what’s creating focus and clarity for you, is probably channelling its energy in someone else, too. It just presents a little differently.