The Whole Picture
Here are some words from a yogi that is finding himself by bicycling across America.
Being mindful and whole are things worth striving for in life. If one is not whole, one is not complete. If a person is not whole it is merely impossible to FULLY advance towards meaning, whether it be: a job, significant other, or even the type of food you eat. To be aware of who you are is to be mindful, and to make conscious decisions to strive for that is to have mindsight. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Daniel J. Siegel's book, Mindsight, in which he describes mindfulness transforms into. "Mindsight is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own mind. It helps us to be aware of our mental props without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses, and moves us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in.
-photo taken by Shagun Pradhan
This is slightly different than his definition of mindfulness."Mindfulness is a form of mental activity that trains the mind to become aware of awareness itself and to pay attention to one's own intention. As researchers have defined it, mindfulness requires paying attention to the present moment from a stance that is nonjudgmental and nonreactive. It teaches self-observation; practitioners are able to describe with words the internal seascape of the mind." Dr. Siegel describes this as a form of "internal tuning in" By doing this we can allow ourselves to be "our own best friend. And just as our attunement to our children promotes a healthy, secure attachment, tuning in to the self also promotes a foundation for residence and flexibility."
To have this mindfulness and make conscious decisions to act upon being aware is to have mindsight. Here is an Introduction to Mindfulness and Mindsight.
So what does this all have to do with wholeness?
One must know why they are doing what they are doing, and not just running through the motions. Wholeness is a term I learned while I was in Santa Fe. I spent most of my two weeks in Santa Fe learning at a world renown Buddhist Zen Center. They practice mindfulness all day and everyday. I told them I was writing a book on happiness and depression, and was able to interview some of the residents living there about their views.
"It is not about having one or the other. It is about letting go of your attachments to your expectations," said one of the residents when I asked about his views on happiness and depression. He continued, "When you always have attachments and expectations, and then your attachment parts ways with you or your expectation isn't met, it causes deep pain. We must find what really, truly matters in our own life."
When we feel this pain, it consumes us and becomes our reality. We have the power to create our own reality. The key is to find meaning in the pain, a lesson unlearned is a mistake. Make no mistakes, always be learning. When we stub our toe on a chair and we get angry, we instantly want to blame the chair. We numb and suppress the pain with anger, one of the most powerful as well as easily accessible emotions. It is easy to blame other things than oneself. However, if we turn inwards and see through the anger, we can help ourselves to realize maybe we should be more aware. Only then can we see meaning in the pain. We learn and grow from our experience. Acceptance and forgiveness were two very important things I learned on my bike trip. We can only move forward if we are to accept and forgive.
"Another resident explains," He who strives for something, must know deep inside why they are striving for this goal. If they do not know, it is a only a mere distraction or illusion that manifested itself onto that person." People can be confused easily to what really matters to them. For example take the classic "American society." The joy and terror of being born in a capitalistic society is that it pushes us to attain a goal, but society tells us which goals are important, and those goals might not always inherently be important at a humanistic level. Capitalism's foundation is competition; it orients people to get off their bum and not be lazy. However, there needs to be balance, and this is what wholeness is.
The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday (USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/06/08/countries-most-vacation-days/2400193/). By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation. Now too much or too little of anything is not good. Unfortunately as humans we often want more of what we think is a good thing, then it turns into a bad thing. It's about finding that balance. Where you find your yin, you must balance it with yang.
In relationships we accept the love we think we deserve. In the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower there is a scene where Sam is talking to Charlie about her relationships and others relationships. "Why do I and everyone I love pick people who treat us like we're nothing?" And Charlie responds in a way where he is looking inwards. "We accept the love we think we deserve." If we are not full and whole as a person, we do not believe we deserve full and whole love. We see ourselves in others.
Life coach and relationship expert Dr. Jermaine Martinez has this to say about relationships and mindfulness, "Whether it be dealing with the pain of a breakup, challenging yourself to listen sensitively in the face of conflict, or give in fully to the moments of sensuality, romantic relationships are one of the most productive vehicles for developing inner mindfulness and self-awareness."
We can learn from ourselves in the jobs we seek and the relationships we choose to partake in. What about the food?
The old saying of "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is a quote that is used to encourage healthy eating. But sometimes what looks like an innocent Apple is not always just an apple. Apples already carry some of the highest levels of toxic pesticide residues, many of them linked to hormone disruption, reproductive harm and even ADHD ( http://www.foe.org/projects/food-and-technology/genetic-engineering/no-gmo-apples ). If we put harmful substances into our body that causes us to be ill, we cannot be whole. It essentially slows down the process of becoming whole by putting obstacles in front of the path to being whole.
The more we can be whole, the more we can give ourselves freely to others. This is an important part of why we are here, the human connection.
Written by: Shagun Pradhan
Mindsight by Dr. Dan Siegel
Jermaine Martinez P.H.D from University of Illinois- Communication: Dissertation on Depression. Dr. Martinez is also a Life Coach at the Attraction Institute.