I was discussing mindfulness with a fellow deist and it dawned on me that most of us have an incomplete understanding of mindfulness itself. I spent some time researching the Buddhist concept of mindfulness and from that research I developed my concept of Reasoned Mindfulness, which I present below.
Mindfulness is comprised of three elements: (1) a frame of reference; (2) directed alertness; and, (3) focused investigation.
The four frames of reference include: (1) what you are physically doing (body); (2) sensory input from the five senses (sensations); (3) ideas or opinions occupying the mind (thoughts); and, (4) temperament (feelings).
Directed alertness means that you do not allow your mind to wander. You consciously maintain your focus on your frame of reference, such as your breathing (body frame of reference) or your response to this article (thoughts frame of reference). 😛
The third aspect of mindfulness is focused investigation. Yoga teachers encourage us to focus on our breathing, for example. In this example, our frame of reference is the body (i.e., breathing). We direct and maintain our alertness on the act of breathing. Focused investigation includes consciously breathing in, feeling the air enter the lungs and the chest expanding, followed by consciously exhaling and feeling the carbon dioxide flow past the mouth and nose as the lungs deflate. When we practice this in the beginning, we are generally able to focus for only a handful of breaths before our minds begin to wander. When this starts to happened, pull it back. Remain focused on your frame of reference. I would wager that most yoga teachers do not explain the long term goal of this action.
The goal of mindfulness, ultimately, is to enhance clarity and composure much like the goal of exercise is to enhance strength and flexibility.
When you are able to hold onto the object of your attention, especially something as boring as breathing, and thoroughly examine it, you are disciplining your mind. When you feel angry or anxious, you will be able to focus your disciplined mind on the feeling itself. You will not allow your mind to catastrophize or to take you down a myriad of potential rabbit holes. In this example, your mind investigates the feeling in and of itself, not the circumstances that gave rise to it or how you might get revenge in the future. When skilled, you will note that the anger will subside because you have taken away the turbulence it would have otherwise caused your mind as well as the negative temperament it would have manifested. You developed this skill way back when you learned to consistently and persistently focus solely on your mundane breathing. Directed alertness is an immensely valuable skill.
Another example might be focusing on your definition of God as it relates to deism. Your frame of reference is thought and your directed alertness in on and only on the way you define God. Your disciplined mind is able to thoroughly investigate all aspects of your definition until you have satisfactorily addressed the issue.
So if you choose to focus on the beauty of the furniture while vacuuming, do it with discipline (directed alertness) and investigate the craftsmanship, angles, and aesthetics. When your mind tries to wander, pull it right back to that lovely couch or Lazy Boy recliner. Your mindfulness is not really about appreciating your high quality furniture but instead on developing and disciplining a high quality mind.
Share this Post