We generate life with how we are in any moment, you and me. Some call it your energy, some your vibration, some call it your state – the totality of mind, body and your soul.
Mindfulness is recognising that our minds run the game and that we can interrupt cycles of unhelpful thinking – called negative thinking – to access more open, pleasant states which are far more healthy and lovely to live within. Also they far more resourceful for making the thousands of decisions of some size or other that we make every single day.
Yes, a dedicated period of time develops the skills to do this: meditation, in other words. But there are ways to drop in for a check in at any time, at any moment. Here’s one:
Mindfulness and the musician
In his book Natural Wakefulness, Gaylon Ferguson writes about demystifying meditation and shows us ways to meditate in a non-striving, non-‘getting it right or wrong’ kind of way. Much of what he writes transfers into our active lives and here’s something that struck me particularly.
He tells the story of a sitar musician who approaches the Buddha to ask that question: how should I hold my mind?
The Buddha asked the musician how he tunes the strings of his sitar. Would he wind them until they are tight and their sound is sharp, or unwind them until they are loose and the notes are flat?
Naturally the musician says neither: he tunes them so that they are not too tight and not too loose.
Keep it simple in the moment
Well, there you are. Of course we lose ourselves in the flow and we act out of lessons we have learned – our conditioning. Holding our mind is a tad misleading because it’s like trying to hold a tidal ocean. Maybe especially because of this, it’s fruitful to pause now and then and enquire ‘How am I? Not too tight? Not too loose?’
If you are either, and of either it’s usually that we are too tight, we can lightly ponder how that is registering. It will be registering in your body somewhere: your shoulders, your tummy….
Gently breathe into the tension. Very gently. Recognise it, acknowledge it, then invite it to release.
This is a good drop of mindfulness, I think. We don’t have to analyse everything in the moment; just ask yourself, then answer yourself intuitively and if you are not too tight or not too loose, carry on. If not, gently adjust. Roll your shoulders, stretch your arms….
If it’s a matter of how we are feeling, maybe we can adjust how it is registering there and then and notice it for contemplation at some point. If it’s the nature of a situation that requires change, again we can notice it for contemplation at some point.
These simple questions feed into how we lead and manage our lives.
The brilliance of the question
You will notice that the questions are ‘Not too…?’ rather than ‘Am I tight or loose?’ Because of the way the mind works, this is excellent. It abolishes the idea of a precise, right or wrong state, and establishes instead states that are fluid and therefore adjustable.
Lastly, if you took the time to ask yourself the questions, did you find that your body shifted from side to side as you did so, and then settled in the centre?
Mindful, awake, flowing.