Mindfulness, the Art/Science/Definition/Wiki Quote?

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Those who know me would probably say, “yeah, I can totally see him getting into that meditation thing… For about three minutes!”

And, I fully admit that, as someone who creates visuals designed to influence people (in a good way, I swear!), that sitting through lectures and sermons for enlighting one’s self or prepping for pearly gates is, usually, a great way to get me to talk about the art of persuasive speaking.

I grew up in a house that practiced the scientific method and all the “getting in touch with the universe” talk always smacked of an excuse to get high and stare at the goldfish for an hour. Which, after a particularly rebellious year a while back, ended with the Dean of Students kindly telling me to take a leave of absence from his school and figue out what the heck I wanted to do if I grew up.

Later, I heard that my goldfish had been, briefly, adopted by my housemate, who had two large tiger oscars. He quickly became “one” with the universe.

But. The subject of mindfulness keeps entering my life. And, it seems to have some evidence of positive effects, while still having the potential to be agnostic or at least noncommittal when it comes to the heaven/hell/universal truth/fuzzy math thing.

Please note: I am not cracking on anyone’s beliefs here. Nor, do I really want to get into a debate about it. In my opinion, one belief about how it started or how it ends and what happens next, may be as good or as valid as another. What impacts me these days is how it effects your relationship with those around you, in the bigger picture of the social contract with the world around us. In other words, if your beliefs help you to help others with tolerance and compassion, while worshiping a giant pink bunny that lobs eggs around the yard once a year, I will gladly help make the omelettes. Just let me get my cup of coffee first.

I digress. Back to the positive results of mindfulness.

My world has crazy and changable schedules, surprise demands of life and children, and that euphoric/devastating emotional roller coaster that is a self employed lifestyle. Staying focused, in the moment, is vital to me keeping my clients happy and delivering a creative and technically perfect product.

Therefore, It is in my own best interests to explore ways to keep myself organized and tools to help me achieve my goals.

I started collecting definitions of “mindfulness” in a effort to better understand this mind set.

S: (n) mindfulness, heedfulness (the trait of staying aware of (paying close attention to) your responsibilities).

Mindfulness – paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.

Mindfulness – Awareness; remembering that all things are interrelated; living in the present moment.

Mindfulness: the act of slowing down, stepping back from the swirling thoughts, emotions and stress in order to see, feel and experience our thoughts, actions and behaviors in a more conscious manner

Mindfulness: Left to itself the mind wanders through all kinds of thoughts — including thoughts expressing anger, craving, depression, revenge, self-pity, etc. … Mostly these thoughts are about the past or future. The past no longer exists. The future is just a fantasy until it happens. The one moment we actually can experience — the present moment — is the one we seem most to avoid.

I am not sure where this path is leading, but I am intrigued and, as I attempt to fulfill my part of my social contract, hope you are, as well. I will write more about my experiences in the future, while still keeping it real.

What is your definition of mindfulness?

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Matt McKee
Photo Illustrator at McKee Photography, husband and father, not necessarily in that order.

One response

  • Editors/Publishers Note:
    As humans we tend to complicate things that are in essence quite simple.

    You don’t have to go off to an ashram or sangha and renounce the world; become austere and wear robes the rest of your life to be mindful or at peace with yourself. You also don’t have to light candles and incense and chant mantras to practice mindfulness either.These are nothing more than props for the stage of practice.

    All you really have to do to start on a path of mindfulness is put aside an hour or so a day to sit quietly somewhere peaceful. Begin by breathing in a steady way and focus on that. And then just watch your mind and thoughts and emotions and memories flit about. As you breath steadily just return your focus to the breath when your mind strays.

    After doing this several times you will be able to take one thought at a time and follow it to it’s end. Or completely investigate your emotions behind an issue.

    Soon after this you will find that you won’t need to “meditate” separately from life. You will find you can do this anytime and perhaps all the time. Focused on the task at hand whatever it may require from you.

    That is being mindful.

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