With gratitude to my friend (and former health coach) Jeff for that phrase in the post title, I too am going rogue with my meditation and mindfulness practice. Last night I went to Shambhala to listen to a public talk on the “Culture of Awake.” (“As more and more people introduce principles and disciplines of wakefulness into their lives, such as mindfulness or yoga, we are together cultivating a culture of awake. In this talk, we will explore some of the basic principles of this culture that can give deeper meaning to how we live our lives and help transform our world into a better place.”) I’ve been feeling heavy and blue, and hoped that listening to the talk would lift my spirits in some way.
Of course that’s an unfair expectation of a talk — it’s not the speaker’s job to do that for me. He was a perfectly lovely smiley man who waved his hands in circles the whole evening, and he did do this one exercise that I found meaningful, and I’ll come back to it at the end.
But he opened by saying that the whole world is becoming awake, isn’t it wonderful. And he had this blissful smile on his face. He reminded us that mindfulness made the cover of Time Magazine, and you can’t be more mainstream than that! And I felt thrown out of the room by his opening premise. No it isn’t! The world is not becoming awake! Just before I left for the talk I watched news of ISIS destroying ancient art, and a report on the discovery of the identity of Jihadi John, the Brit responsible for beheading so many people.
We’re freezing and the global climate is transforming dangerously and too many Americans (and others) laugh and mock and say “then how is this ‘global warming'” with idiotic gaping grins betraying their stupidity. Morons are in charge of important subcommittees. The world looks pretty dangerous and stupid and threatening to me, and I am in pretty deep despair about the cruelty of the Republicans in charge. (The Democrats have their own problems, including naivete and being bought and all kinds of things, but they don’t tend toward the same breathtaking cruelty.)
The world does not seem like it’s waking up to me. However much the affluent white people sitting on cushions in gold-painted rooms might say it is, it just isn’t.
What is the point and purpose of meditation and mindfulness? Is it to become smug in your own practice? Is it to delude yourself into thinking this is how the world is? Surely not; that seems the very opposite of the point, at least as I understand it. Isn’t the point of it to see more clearly what is?? To get rid of the story as much as possible — and this seems as dangerous a story as any other. This is like any other delusion, surely, even if it’s dharma-ed by a dude on a cushion in front of an altar.
And so I do the exercise he taught, which he called “Finding Home:”
- Feel my weight
- Move the center of gravity from my head down to my heart. Feel my embodiment.
- Open my awareness out to the world — from which I’ve never really been separate.
And from that position, I try to encounter the world as it is, not as I really wish it were. I continue my own meditation practice alone, I remain mindful as much as I can, I find value for myself in these things, and I think I let the rest go, the institutional parts. I seek the lightness and kindness and compassion that meditation and mindfulness can bring, but I will do that on my own.