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Monday, November 4, 2013

A final take on mindfulness (Part V)

zoonyzoozoodazoo, Flickr

Good Monday!

This is the last post of our mindfulness series (although we will most definitely come back to it on a regular basis).

By reading and writing about mindfulness, I have come to realize that mindfulness can apply to pretty much anything. Even Jean-Claude Van Damme claims he is AWARE. (Aware of what, that's another question, as he tends to go in a multiplicity of directions at the same time.)

Mindfulness is a powerful tool to self-development and well-being. It could even save us from a miserable life. One does not need to be deeply spiritual to experience the power of mindfulness, as you will gather from the following example:

Mindfulness leads to well-being

Lately, I had been feeling... well, maybe not miserable, but low on energy (both physical and mental). I didn't know why, since my life is pretty good these days. So I put on my "mindfulness glasses", paid attention to how I felt deep down inside, and realized that I hadn't been very serious about Maslow's pyramid of needs: I was fulfilling all my needs... except for the ones at the bottom of the pyramid, the physiological ones, and the most important of all! More precisely, I had been neglecting my rest (not enough sleep) and my food (too much sugar). As soon as I realigned my priorities... I started to feel better.

Then, interestingly, I realized I also had emotional needs to attend to, needs I had been oblivious to. I tackled those. I can say I feel MUCH better now.

Have you been ignoring some of your needs from a lack of mindfulness?

Mindfulness as a self-defense mechanism against... the mass media

I have to say I love how mindfulness has an application in everyday life. It can, for example, help one transcend the mass media and advertisement we are constantly bombarded with (quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh again!):

We know that perfume is an item of consumption and a bait. In the bait there is a hook, and we are the innocent fish. The products are advertised so skillfully and the bait is so appealing that, with one bite, we're caught. What do we have as self-defense? Nothing except our mindfulness.

How do you use mindfulness in the way you respond to advertisement and the mass media in general?

Mindfulness as the first step to respecting the environment

Human beings look down on other living beings. We think animals are created for us to eat, and that we can do whatever we want with animals, vegetables and minerals. We are not very healthy in that respect. But we cannot protect human beings unless we protect non-human beings.

When you stand in front of a tree and practice mindful breathing, you realize that you and the tree inter-are. You know that if the tree is not there, you cannot be there. This kind of wisdom leads to the end of all wars and discrimination. It is not something to just talk about. It is something that we can live in every moment of our lives.

So, mindfulness leads to a deeper and wider understanding of how the world functions, including empathy for all living things. When I see children try and destroy spider webs on purpose, I explain to them how much work was involved in the creation of that web, and how spiders can be useful to nature. This applies to pretty much any live creature, even if as humans we are not always aware of it.

Are you mindful of the life around you? How does that affect your actions on an everyday basis?

Mindfulness is to be shared

Now that you have learned about mindfulness, and have started practicing it... you have a brand new role: share the good news! Tell other people about it! Help them raise their levels of consciousness. See how this man shares his own kind of mindfulness (on the topics of fitness, aging, and the importance of play) with the world!

Be sure to look for the previous posts on Mindfulness (click on any):

About fears
About relationships
About lucidity
About health


  1. I just had an interesting conversation with a relative about being mindful of my body. I think it's incredibly important and I think that we often forget how can impact things as visible as our careers, or as invisible as our emotions.

    The example I used was about being aware of proper breathing, or lack thereof. Something as simple as that was focusing on that was enough to change my energy level and my productivity.

    Great list!

    1. So true Ryan! We ought to go back to those basic things! Thank you for commenting.

  2. My mind is very full after all those posts on mindfulness !! haha !! But they were useful, thank you for writing them, I will try and apply some of the wisdom to my life. My favorite part is about going back to your breathing, 'cause sometimes that's all it takes for answers to appear ......

    1. Haha, and my mind is empty after putting all that stuff on the blog! :-)

      Being aware of our breathing is so important...

  3. Thank you so much for such thought provoking inspiration. I like this a lot!

  4. Love this whole series! Agree that being mindful and self aware is a great defense against the negative messages constantly bombarding us!

    1. Yes, because without awareness, we don't even realize we are bombarded. Thank you for your comment Nicole!

  5. I like this very much!!

    I have been aware of our being a part of nature for a long time. I do not see a superior or inferior.

    I try to kill as little as possible. If there are creatures where I don't want them to be I relocate them to a better habitat :-)

    I fear our treatment of nature is a karmic debt that punishes us.

    1. I agree with your views of nature. I sometimes wonder why some human beings are able to feel empathy/compassion toward nature/animals (including bugs) while others don't seem to feel that empathy. That we "need" certain creatures shouldn't even make a difference; we still shouldn't hurt them. :-)

  6. Funny - I've been reminded by my oldest son lately to be mindful of the trees and soil because that is how we are able to breath!!! (Hooray for Honors Biology!)
    I have to tell you, I have really enjoyed this entire series. I think that the best part for me is the reminder to step back and focus on what is important and sometimes that involves really taking care of myself.

    1. Taking care of the trees or taking care of ourselves, we know we have to do it, but a nice reminder helps. Thank you for commenting! :-)

  7. I really enjoyed watching the Stephen Jepson video and listening to the interview. I'm not sure I understood every message you were sending, especially the Van Damme one. He could have been speaking French for all I know (HA!) As a child I was taught to receive all good things as gifts from God, and to be thankful for all the blessings received. These included wood heat, and animals as meat. That is mindful, just not the same mindfulness. We also were taught that spider bites cause inflammation, and if we saw one in the house to squish it. Still...I enjoyed your post overall. Peace and happiness:)

    1. Isn't Jepson inspiring?

      And for the rest, no need to agree on everything. Mindfulness is what counts. :-)

    2. Oh, and Van Damme... even French speaking people don't understand him. ;-)

  8. At the end of the day, mindfulness, is simply the act of not opposing our inherent predisposition to choose right over wrong as it relates to others, be they human, plant or animal. By nature, all man is good. By example, not so much...

    I have really enjoyed these.

  9. Hi Julie
    Just like the sun,moon,stars,sky ,forests,vegetation,rivers,oceans and mountains are a natural part of our geographical landscape.Desires will inevitably occupy our mind even though the desire-less state is ideal in a very enlightened ,spiritual context.Eventually all humans must aspire to reach this exalted enlightened state.Yet when a completely desire-less state is not prevailing what do you do?
    There is a famous Zen saying “calmness does not mean you should stop your activity.Real calmness is to be found in activity itself”.Its is pretty evident;we need a strategy to handle our activity and desires ,and the emotional response to it in life.
    The simplest route to such poise is practicing calmness in all situations. Yogananda Parmahansa once said “be calm under all circumstances,and happiness will automatically follow”.

    1. I like the quote by (I think) Suzuki Roshi, "There are no enlightened beings, only enlightened activity."

  10. I use mindfulness to stop myself from wigging out when exposed to bad news, which is practically every day. I use meditation, quiet, spiritual music to keep me mindful of what is going on for me here and now. When I am mindful, the world is a more friendly place and I like people more. When I am mindful I have empathy and compassion. When I am mindful I practice good self-care.

    I've really enjoyed this series. Thank you so much.


  11. I had not heard about Maslow's Pyramid. Makes sense we start with the spiritual first, as that is who we mainly are, now that I think of it mindfully.

    I'd say I have a tendancy to work more than play, so that is something to be mindful of. Play to me means creating. Enjoyed allowing myself to do so yesterday. Feels great!!

    I am enjoying your blog so much.

    Thank you!!