mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF hip and hopeless

zazen 2: mindfulness

To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders

Maybe it's because I was the first kid in my workplace to have a Palm Pilot, I'm deluded into thinking I'm trendy. I'm still the only one among my circle of friends who has an iPod (thanks to my sister, phew!). And yet I didn't know the 1970s Barry White till his songs were featured on the 1990s hit series Ally McBeal, which I didn't start watching till 2001. And how was I to know that my favorite fashion style was being mocked by the cognoscenti as mom jeans?

Anyway, last week I gave myself credit for rediscovering the ancient practice of zazen, a meditation method used by Zen Buddhists (Japan). Yes, it was popular in the Sixties, but doesn't that count as retro-trendy?

Now I discover that zazen was repackaged as Mindfulness. And mindfulness, in turn, was incorporated into Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a respected form of psychotherapy that was all the rage when I left my job as the Institution back in 2003.

Mindfulness in DBT expands on the just-sitting process of zazen, to include everything you do. See the "open textbook" on DBT. An excerpt:


Do one thing at a time. When you are eating, eat. When you are walking, walk. When you are bathing, bathe. When you are working, work. When you are in a group, or a conversation, focus your attention on the very moment you are in with the other person. When you are thinking, think. When you are worrying, worry. When you are planning, plan. When you are remembering, remember. Do each thing with all of your attention.

If other actions, or other thoughts, or strong feelings distract you, let go of distractions and go back to what you are doing – again, and again, and again.

Concentrate your mind. If you find you are doing two things at once, stop and go back to one thing at a time.

One-mindfully is sustained attention on the present moment which develops concentration. This skill is easier when you are interested in something and much harder when you are not. When you are doing something that you totally love, focusing on it whole-heartedly is easy. Intense total involvement follows from passionate interest. But how do you focus your mind when the activity is not as compelling as your favorite thing to do?

What, multi-tasking is Out??? Oh, I already knew that. Very hip to reject multi-tasking. (Plus, once you're over fifty, attempting to do 3 things at once means you forget what you were just doing three times as fast.

<<<1st thoughts on zazen | More>>>