I spy with my little eye something beginning with N…
Can you see it?
Have you noticed it today?
Whoever and wherever you are it’s definitely in front of you.
Unless your Lord Voldemort that is.
Ah. That kind of gives it away though.
It’s easy to forget that mindfulness is a way of living. We can fall into the trap of thinking that attempting to be mindful is something we do when sat down cross legged with our eyes closed, but in theory at least, it needn’t even involve meditation as an activity.
There are many ways to define mindfulness, none ever seem quite adequate but the different definitions seem to construct a reasonably accurate overall picture. I’ve heard it defined as ’noticing what its like to be you’, or ’noticing what you notice’, or ‘being present’. One description I’d like to offer is that mindfulness the ability observe a picture without losing sight of the picture frame. Have you ever had that experience? You’re so sucked into something that you forget it’s edges. I had a sudden fleeting moment of mindfulness where I was watching a movie (Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald if you really want to know) with my son and a couple of friends recently. We were watching the film in the pitch dark on a huge projector screen. The image and sound were great and I was fully immersed and then in the second half of the film I had a sudden moment where I noticed the edges to the screen. Like a sudden ‘plop’ my mind stopped identifying with the film. I went from being in the film, to watching me watch the film. The film returned to its context of being light projected onto a screen, bound by edges, in a room, that I was also in. In an instant I felt I had unplugged from the Matrix.
Now you might be we wondering, why do I want that?! Why not just be immersed in a feeling?! Well first of all, seeing the edges and having that perspective and context doesn’t take anything away from the film, in fact I could see it all happening so much clearer and I could see my reactions to various bits of the film more clearly. This experience only adds to the film. And this is true of life itself. We often walk around in our day to day sucked into the film of life. Our minds are fully immersed in the image, our thoughts narrate all that we sense and the pitfalls are potentially enormous. We end up puppets to our thoughts, lost in the drama of the real-world film unfolding in front of us. This can be incredibly detrimental to our mental health because our fictional thoughts carry huge weight, the drama’s of our relationships take on a cinematic and theatrical significance when in reality they are passing elements in consciousness, to be observed, not chased (not always at least). And so learning to see reality clearly is not only an essential tool to avoiding the drama of life, but also to observing the beauty of each scene for all of its majesty. Rather than being lost in the movie, we can observe it far more clearly for the master piece and work of art that it can be. The same goes for life.
And so if with a movie, we can notice the screens edges unhook us, in everyday life we can also observe its edges.
So. I spy with my little eye something beginning with N.
Have you seen it yet?
It’s in front of us all day and in the same way that our minds sucks us into the film to the point where we forget the screen, we get sucked into the movie of life forgetting the frame for it. In every thing we've ever seen, in every shot, our noses have been there and we pretty much always miss them. Haha. So where yogis will often ask somebody to follow and re-connect with their breath. My very simple but very powerful trick for accessing a clearer view of reality as it is, is to occasionally throughout the day, remember to notice my nose. I try to do it when watching the sunset, when surfing, when with my family, even in the odd argument or when giving a public talk. Suddenly notice that your nose frames all that you see suddenly makes your mind go ‘click’ and your out of the simulation, back to the real world. If you wear glasses like me, then the effect is even more powerful. There are literally frames that I’m seeing the world through and yet my mind filters them out too, determined to suck me into the movie of life. The mind suppresses data like eye movement or things that it doesn’t deem important like the nose or my glasses frames. When I do manage to notice the frames, I suddenly find it far harder to think mean thoughts of others, or the thing I’m worry about loses importance. The drama drops. I’m no longer sucked into the film. It turns out it was fiction all along. A piece of art to be enjoyed.
So give it a try.
A couple of times today, try to notice your nose and unplug from the Matrix even if just for a micro-second.
PS. Geeky note, have you noticed that you always see your nose from one side (normally the left)? It’s because one of your eyes is in charge. Another little funny quirk of perception.