With Mindfulness I like to think of three steps that we can take on the journey towards appreciation and enlightenment. I use these in the following ways in a 20 minute meditation sometimes:
This last aspect is seen by some as ‘not in touch with reality’. This is true, of course. What is reality anyway? I choose to practice this only after a very objective observing of feeling and thought flowing into and around my body. The reason I then use the imagination to conjure positivity is because it helps me in my earthly day to be in states of
Translating this to the real world.
These states are very useful. They foster joyful engagement, positive action, calm relations and effective productivity. We can also achieve these things without being in those states, but it takes a lot more willpower, energy and generally is not as effective, because it doesn’t feel as good. So one more mind imagining that I use outside of meditation is: ‘seeing people as part of nature’.
You know that moment when a car honks art you and you get a flash of extreme irritation shortly followed by a swear word and imagining how rude and uncaring the driver is? Well, what if you didn't have that reaction? Or, more importantly the thought behind it? What if all you had was the sensation of shock from the noise and then a release?
A bit like when a dog barks or a baby cries or thunder rolls.
With the natural phenomenon it shocks you but then you let it go. Because the story about it - your thinking is different - we see those things as innocent parts of nature. We often see fellow humans as…. rude, selfish, mean… we forget they are just a part of nature too. We think the fact that they have developed language and a deeper consciousness that is capable of imagining complex things, including morality, to mean that they ‘should’ behave differently.
A different idea of our nature:
In this article I want to posit a different idea - a game of the mind that can help us act more skillfully, cooperatively and appropriately to people and situations, but mostly, that helps us let go of the stresses that tense up and eventually damage our bodies. What is we saw people as we do natural (and innocent) phenomenon or creatures.
Here are some examples:
Angry car driver: See them as a honey badger!
Irritable, tenacious, not to me messed with and adorable! When I saw his behaviour as that of a honey badger the way forward was clear and without emotional resistance - give the honey badger some space. If you mess with one of those things you might overpower it but you are going to get torn up in the process. But at the end of it - IT DOESN’T MATTER IF HE WAS IN THE WRONG AND I WAS IN THE RIGHT. I might also alert the police, calmly and easily that there is a honey badger (dangerous driver) on the loose. Not for revenge or malice, but to protect others.
Noisy person on the bus? See them as a noisy baby!
What would you do? Either let it go, empathise and enquire what is wrong or politely ask for it to be quiet, knowing full well that because it’s a baby it may not listen to you and may even get louder. But you don’t have to take it personally - because it’s a baby! If you just see them as an annoying human who ‘should’ be quieter, then you either sit there fuming (damaging your body) or get aggressive and further incite aggression. The baby image isn’t infantilizing - it is conscious playing with ideas to promote more skillful responses and a healthy body.
Boss imposes power over you by scolding you at work? See them as a big powerful bear!
If a bear tells you what to do I suggest you agree and do it. You wouldn’t hold it against the bear. You might also look for ways to appease the bear, distract the bear or soothe the bear, but not out of hate; out of respect for the bear’s power. On a wider sense, if it is an angry bear you might also take longer term steps to contain it or tame it. Same goes by imagining a street gang as a pride of lions.
All of these things reunite the idea that human behaviour is natural, not super-natural. Because our evolved brains seek meaning and therefore add all kinds of expectations, ‘shoulds’ and blame onto other humans, which we wouldn’t with more ‘innocent’ wildlife. By introducing the image of a wild nature back onto our fellow humans it can relax our holding onto judgement and help us to let go, returning to a balanced view, then taking more appropriate, not reactive, action and responses.
I invite you to try this in your day, with the three steps;
Let me know how you get on! And Enjoy! x
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com