Struggling mindfully


In some ways, mindfulness is the most powerful tool we have, yet, it is not easy to be mindful when we struggle. Most often when we are not in a right place, we want to escape. Instead, can we watch what is happening with our full attention? As it has become the lens of my exploration, I would like to explore the struggle I face when I write.

For some reasons, writing has always been a battleground for me. At times, I totally shy away from it, at others, I pursue it like a one-way love affair. Four years ago, I embarked on the project to write a novel and what a struggle it has been! Now, I am committed to this blog for at least the next three weeks. The idea here is to create a new opportunity to change my relation to writing. Yesterday was a struggle and today I feel a bitter taste in my mouth. Instead of finding new tricks to entice me to fill the page, I want to meet the struggle in the eye – to come face to face with it.

Mindfulness is our full potential. We may experience it at times but on the whole, we are too preoccupied with a multitude of concerns and thoughts that we forget to be aware of the present moment. It is relatively easy to be mindful when one is Sitting quietly or walking in nature; it is much harder when one is involved in a complex activity that relies on the mind, and that may bring out emotions.

I am sitting at the desk, and the thoughts come to me: I have already taken too much time mulling over this. There are a lot of distractions outside. I would rather relate to people in the real world. I am not sure who I am writing to. Too many ideas come to my head, and I cannot seem to be able to reconcile them. How do I know the truth of what I am writing?  I wish I could find a formula that would make the process of writing this blog more effortless. How authentic am I?Perception looks so fragmented when one stops to observe it. It feels uncomfortable to meet the circular movement of the mind. The sun is shining outside, and the lushness of the vegetation outside my window is inviting me to go out.

Back at the desk. A feeling of gratefulness is descending on me. I breathe. The air is clear. I scan the body; my posture is straighter. Watching the thoughts has created calm, or was it the shades of the copper beaches that did it? Am I starting to enjoy the activity? I understand that there will be urges for me to want to run away, to escape as soon as it becomes unpleasant. I can choose to let go of them. When the struggle comes, the challenge is not to chase it, not to feed it, but to let it be. Look at it with kindness. Is it a genuine fear? Is it a ghost of the past?

Mindfulness is effortless. It dissolves the false and lets us meet reality. The truth may be uncomfortable and even unpleasant. One day we may have little to share, the next too much. Our writing may feel pompous or contrived. The critic will often come uninvited. We can tell him to come back during the rewriting stage or while proof-reading. The struggle is worse when we let it take over. The struggle may never disappear, but if we meet it, mindfully, it may bring some insightful learning. We cannot mindfully struggle, but can we struggle mindfully?


Photo: Loic Lopez

This blog is part of a renewed 42-day writing challenge inspired by Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits Book.