Redefining mindfulness as creative engagement with life

redefining mindfulness
Connection, Meaning & Purpose walking on the beach. Photo: Serge Prengel

Mindfulness is not some sort of otherworldly state that is a break from ordinary reality. Life is interaction, and mindfulness is our natural ability to manage the interactions of life. Being mindful simply means being engaged in what we do. It is a state of relaxed alertness, i.e., neither oblivious of what is going on, nor hypervigilant.

In civilized life, we can often get away with being less engaged in what we do. That is, mindless rather than mindful. Disconnected. For instance, when we take a walk in nature, we do not need to be alert to predators or look for food, the way our remote ancestors had to. And so, we daydream as we walk. Until we suddenly realize we have wandered away from the trail, and are jolted into paying attention to what we do.

It takes disruption to stop the disconnection, to shift from mindless autopilot to mindful engagement. But the disruption need not be an unpleasant surprise. We can intentionally disrupt the mindless default mode by taking a pause.

A mindful pause is an active pause. It is different from what happens when we pause a video. When we resume playing the video, its contents have not been changed by the pause. Not so for us human beings. If you were to resume exactly what you were doing before pausing, you would look robotic.

For us, pausing is a disruption because it gives us the possibility to be mindful. That is, to pay attention to our inner experience in relation to what we are doing. This kind of contemplation is not divorced from real life. It is what allows us to find motivation, and a felt sense of meaning and purpose, moment by moment. In other words, to be ourselves. As I pause, I get a sense of who I am & what I want.

A mindful pause gives us the space to be ourselves. Having space for ourselves gives us more space for a mindful connection with others. Inner connection and interconnection reinforce each other.

I invite you to join these creative explorations

“Joining” is not a figure of speech. It does not just involve visiting this site or getting the newsletter.

For one thing, I am inviting you to actively participate in upcoming events.

I also encourage you to create your own peer practice group. Invite a friend or a small group to join you in a creative exploration of mindfulness.

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