You know when a friend comes back from a meditation retreat and they’re all walking and talking slow because they’re being “mindful,” but really they’re just being slow and annoying? Or when you’re feeling anxious about the future or depressed about the past, and then you remember that you’re a “yogi” and you’re supposed to live in the present moment, and you just end up feeling weird and guilty about your anxiety/depression, and you force yourself take take a big breath and “be present” but you’re not entirely convinced?
In this video, Michael Stone attempts to clear up some of the common misinterpretations of “the present moment” and “mindfulness,” and he acknowledges some of the idealizations and forced actions around both terms.
“Our lives can only happen moment to moment,” Stone reminds us. He also reminds us that the Buddha was “an action kind of guy” who talked about mindfulness as an engagement practice. According to the Buddha, mindfulness is an activity, like walking, talking and eating. Stone encourages us to practice this, but not in a way that’s stiff or forced (or boring or painful for our friends – my interpretation, not Stone’s).
Etymologically speaking, mindfulness can be defined as generosity – a blossoming of generous spirit in which we become less concerned with ourselves and more involved with what’s actually happening in present experience. The point is to not get caught up in a “fixed stillness,” but to be in relaxed movement with what’s going on around us. As Stone notes in closing, this is something our culture needs right now: how to be intimate, to listen, to give people our full attention.