Moving From Mechanical Thinking to Mindfulness

Moving From Mechanical Thinking to Mindfulness

Author: Ian Mansell

Since ‘mindfulness’ has recently become the new buzzword - something that we all need to investigate, apparently - let’s look at what the word means, as well as what it doesn’t.

Thanks to Google we can learn that mindfulness is a combination of 

  • Being in the moment
  • Discerning with your feelings, and
  • Losing opinions about what you are sensing.

In other words, using your feelings instead of your intellect. 

Which means: living from the eternal wisdom of your soul part instead of the short-sighted mechanical thinking of your intellect.

The hard part for most of us, having been thoroughly educated in the western tradition to “think before you act”, is to learn to be truly spontaneous again. The incredible volume of information that fills our contemporary heads leads us into rabbit holes of internal debate. For every reason to ‘do something’, our heads contain countless reasons to “hesitate”, “make sure”, “doubt” and then, being unable to decide, to procrastinate. Thinking Before You Act has become the enemy of mindfulness.

Living Illumination makes it clear that yes, you do need to think before you act, but the thinking part is only about how you can manifest your initial feeling – your urge to act. How do you translate the urge/the feeling into physical action in the swiftest way possible? This is the only question we should be asking our intellect.

Consider an aboriginal hunter moving through the bush with spear in hand. He turns a corner, snapping a twig and immediately a kangaroo startles and takes flight. The hunter may have been walking for hours without seeing any prey, but now he has a split second to react: to lift his spear, assess where the roo will be by the time the spear reaches it, aim and throw with sufficient strength to produce a kill. 

If he fails, he and his family will go hungry.

Obviously, if he were walking through the bush chatting to his friends he would not be alert enough to seize the opportunity. And if he hadn’t spent years practising his spear technique and studying how startled kangaroos behave, he wouldn’t have the skill to succeed. Nor, of course, if he had to spend that split-second trying to remember what his mentors had told him to do in such situations, or processing the shame of his past failures.

He just has to trust his gut reactions (to process at the speed of light the incoming rush of impressions from his feelings) and throw his spear before it is too late. There is no time to think.

Have you ever lived a potentially life-threatening experience such as a car crash? When time seems to stand still and you can later recall every minute detail of every second? As if your built-in cameras started recording a million frames per second instead of the usual 32. All that additional information feeds into your discernment of what’s occurring. And you most likely had an awareness (from your guidance) in the middle of it of what you needed to do to survive.

Imagine having that degree of alertness all the time, as the aboriginal must! The potential is there, if only we could eliminate the clunky thinking of our mechanical intellect. 

Because, Instead of absorbing all that information, our intellect, fearing it will be overwhelmed by the flood of facts it believes it will then have to think about, turns off the download with an opinion. It slaps a label on the situation, assigning it to a category of experience just like some previous experience we have already dealt with, so we don’t have to deal with it again. We can then stop perceiving the extra downloaded information and go back to sleep. 

Our intellect cannot understand that our soul part has a ‘hard drive’ of unlimited capacity. All our experiences are important and contribute to our accumulated wisdom of many lifetimes. When we have opinions and assign our experiences to the same categories as past experiences, we dismiss the possibility that this experience is unique and may contain some important new learning for us.

Mindfulness can be fabulously demonstrated by considering an improvising jazz musician like Keith Jarrot or Miles Davis, who can walk on stage in front of thousands of people equipped only with a desire to create a certain vibe through their music. Without a melody, a chord structure or any pre-arranged agreements with their fellow musicians, all they have is their instrumental technique, their ears, their eyes and their creativity with which to create, at the speed of light, music that communicates to vast numbers of people. 

What these masters have in common is faith in their feelings. They have to trust that, as long as they stay out of their head and don’t doubt themselves, their soul part will deliver the goods. Their soul part being the sum total of not only those countless hours of practice and experiment this lifetime, but also the accumulated musical/emotional wisdom of their many past lifetimes as well.

This is what mindfulness is asking us too to do.

In fact, what we acknowledge in such masters is not so much mindfulness as rather mindlessness. Most of us regard the Mind as the Thinking Mind. True mindfulness however celebrates a state that is beyond thinking. It acknowledges a ‘mind’ that is far superior to the clunky mechanistic intellect that we use to navigate our way around this physical planet: an intellect that believes we only exist as long as we hold on to this body – that life only began when we were born into this body, and will cease as soon as we lose it.

As we learn to silence this clunky intellect and its endless internal debates, we start to transcend to whole new level of awareness: a world where our sensitivity is supreme, and uncontested. 

We become aware of a whole new realm of unspoken entities around us – our angel guides and their opposite numbers. We become aware of the battle scars we still bear from our past, which our guidance now help us to heal. We recognise that our spiritual gifts of sensitivity are real and can, with discipline, become our best friends.

As our self-acceptance and self-confidence grow we allow ourselves to discard the debilitating self-imposed limitations of the past, and begin to embrace our true birth right of unfettered omnipotence with the backing of our feeling-discernment as guard dog.

Mindfulness is the process of restoring our feeling nature to its proper place as the primary motivator for all our actions.

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