Being more human when dealing with another’s grief

You Aren’t Here Now: How Grief and Mindfulness Don’t Mix. A friend posted this article on mindfulness and grief and how the way mindfulness being interpreted in mainstream media has left it bereft of value and has turned it into something that is ultimately not useful at all, when the actual definition of mindfulness truly would be useful in grief situations. As I was reading it, I wrote down my reactions to what the author had encountered. Here is where I want to begin:

A recent magazine article ended with the suggestion: “when you get into the habit of watching your thoughts, you just might find that suddenly everything starts to go your way.” As it becomes more common, mindfulness is seen as a way to get things (including happiness), rather than as a tool for helping you live.

Even when mindfulness is presented with more thought, it is often misused as corrective rather than supportive. So much of meditation, guided visualization, even basic yoga classes, stresses the idea that if you would only breathe and relax, you would see that everything is perfect just as it is. Everything is unfolding for your deepest good, and this moment, itself, is beautiful. If you are having difficulties, all you need to do is see where you might change your perspective, and all will flow freely again. Where this modern interpretation of mindfulness fails, for me, and maybe for you, is how it is presented as a cure-all: any pain or trouble will be transformed if you think about it right, as though being in the present moment will fix everything.

Ok, the problem here is that we are missing the very real fact that there are multitudinous layers of reality. You cannot easily apply the paradigmatic truth of one layer of reality to the circumstances of another layer of reality, particularly when the layers are so disparate and far apart. I can think lofty abstract thoughts about past lives and reincarnation and whether it is accidental that I cross paths with certain people (or any person, for that matter) and still feel the irritating pain of a hangnail or a paper cut or the ache of arthritis. Both are valid experiences, both are vastly different layers of reality to deal with.

When trauma and tragedy strike, letting the pain and grief of those experiences flow through you is being in the moment. What is happening in this greater societal misinterpretation of mindfulness is that we’re becoming avoidant of that pain. That’s not healthy. That’s not what health is. That’s not mindfulness. It’s a New Age Bullshit Superficial Misinterpretation that Does Not Serve Anyone.

Continue reading

Check Your Assumptions

Check Your Assumptions by Jon Udell

I love analogies that fit really well. In this beautifully concise article, Jon Udell uses computer programming debugging methodology to help us understand how we can communicate better with each other by reframing our approach to the assumptions we make about the people and situations in our life. We could use this for all the assumptions we make about ourselves, too.

In this context, ‘check’ means ‘test’. Test your assumptions. And it’s really imperative that we do this, if we want to gain adequate and appropriate understanding within a given dialogue.

This also really fits in well with Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and with Rebecca Shafir’s Zen of Listening, the latter of which I’m reading and am thoroughly enjoying. The subtitle is Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction, so it’s perfectly au courant.