After a week of clouds and rain, people were out in droves in the parkland, though I saw no others sitting quietly. With all the ‘meditation teachers,’ why is meditation so rare?
The hardest and most important thing a person can do is to remain with what is. One cannot do so unless one is very honest with oneself about one’s thoughts, emotions and motivations as they arise in the present.
In a failed attempt to sell meditation to the masses, “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has become very fashionable. It has failed to make any difference however, and has even added to the erosion of character and heart in America and beyond.
“Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a program that incorporates mindfulness to assist people with pain and a range of conditions and life issues that were initially difficult to treat in a hospital setting. Developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the 1970s by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, MBSR uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to help people become more mindful.”
The word ‘mindfulness’ is used three times in that paragraph, but like other catchall terms (including meditation), it’s not defined. Nor is the standard definition of ‘mindfulness’ very helpful:
“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
“Calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations” is a core truth in this definition. However awareness is not a “mental state,” but an elemental state. Animals in nature are much more aware and present than humans. The human mental state is the problem, and cannot provide the context for a solution to the crisis of human consciousness.
Second, awareness is not a function of concentration or effort, much less the will, as “focusing one’s awareness” implies. Awareness is the natural outcome of simply attending to the movement of what is, outside and inside.
Humans fabricate reality; we rarely attend to actuality. This is a main reason why there’s so little awareness and self-knowing.
Finally, making mindfulness “a therapeutic technique” has been a complete failure. Since the therapeutic impetus for MBSR originated over 40 years ago, people in North America are exponentially more screwed up. Devotees will say that’s because MBSR hasn’t been sufficiently tried and applied, but that simply untrue. It’s even taught through hospitals, as it is in this town.
‘Mindfulness’ has become meaningless because it is not inwardly and spiritually substantial. MBSR a consumer-oriented program for ‘stress reduction,’ which is like offering a spring shower in the Sahara for people dying of thirst en masse.
For two generations, ‘mindfulness’ has not raised the level of awareness and simple human respect in America’s young people. This was painfully evident in recent days by an ugly incident at the Lincoln Memorial, of all places, where MAGA-hat wearing Catholic high school boys taunted and mocked an elderly Native American drummer, Nathan Phillips.
Later as reported, “journalist Savannah Guthrie asked Nick Sandmann, the boy standing in front of Nathan Phillips and blocking his way, whether he thought the public outrage over his behavior might have been different were it not for the Make America Great Again hat. “That’s possible,” Sandmann said, which was his most self-aware utterance of the interview.”
The Washington Post article concluded: “High school students are digital natives who understand the power of images. Armed with so much knowledge, it is, perhaps a more jolting loss, a graver reality, when youth is wrecked by the acid hatred symbolized by a hat.” (Italics mine.)
The lack of self-awareness in people young and old, Republican and Democrat (though the latter often pride themselves on how ‘woke’ they are) is inversely proportional to the amount of information and knowledge available to people via the Net, the media, and the schools.
That’s because self-awareness and self-knowing cannot be taught, but only shown.
Having worked with pre-school children as a young man, I was often amazed at how quickly small kids pick up on attention or lack of attention in adults. When the parent and teacher is aware of what is deeply happening within and around them, the child responds, grows and flowers.
Just as true self-awareness has little to do with trendy mindfulness, so too self-knowing is not to be confused with self-knowledge, or knowledge of any kind.
The ‘mindfulness’ mania has made people more self-concerned and self-involved. So is it any wonder that young children, who are naturally self-centered, remain self-centered into their teens and beyond? Is it any wonder that we’ve become a nation of narcissists with a narcissistic president?
A good person is not one that has no darkness in them, such as envy, jealousy, anger or even hate, but one that does not deny negative things when they arise, does not act out of them as a rule, and does not project their stuff onto others.
Lefevremartin77 at gmail.com