Mindfulness V. Contemplative
Coming up with a name for a blog is never simple. Re.Mind. suggests that my focus should be on mindfulness. That is why and what I practice, after all. So, when asked about my profession, my standard answer is, “I focus on being mindful,” and, with that, I am guaranteed to get a bit of side-eye. Then, I continue, “but I like to call it contemplative practice” and the response is one of curiosity, “What do you mean by contemplative?
The term “mindfulness” has become the word du jour and tends to get tossed around as the cure for (fill in the blank) as well as the brunt of under-the-breath, “new age, hippy,” comments. Let’s face it, the word can be found on the front page of major magazines as their lead story: “The Muddied Meaning of ‘Mindfulness’,” with a lovely bit of alliteration and the word mindfulness in air quotes. “Who, What, Why: What is Mindfulness?” with the promise of an answer. “Mindfulness has Gone Corporate: Why Has America Appropriated Buddhism for Capitalist Gains?” for which I have no response.
Therefore, I’ve chosen to use the term “contemplative.” The online version of the New Oxford American Dictionary defines this as “adjective: expressing or involving prolonged thought” or “noun: the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time; deep reflective thought; the state of being thought about or planned.” By far, my favorite definition can be found in the book, Contemplative Practices in Higher Education: Powerful Methods to Transform Teaching and Learning by Daniel P. Barbezat and Mirabai Bush:
"The word contemplation derives from contemplari, to “gaze attentively,” but the word was originally linked to the act of cutting out or creating space, as in “to mark out a space for observation.” The word temple comes from this definition: a place reserved or cut out for observance. In many ways, the practices…provide the space for [individuals] to allow them to observe and gain insight. Introspection is inward (intro) looking (specere) – the mental act of attending carefully to what is occurring within."
Don’t get me wrong. I love the term mindfulness. When I hear it, I think of Jon Kabat-Zinn. I LOVE Jon Kabat-Zinn having devoured Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life in 1994. I am still committed to his original definition: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” But presently the word has become a cure-all, a salve, a band-aid for all that is wrong with the world. That is not the mindfulness I know.
So, I named my blog Re.Mind. because I want to reference the mind as something that allows us to experience the world, to see clearly, without distraction, and to live consciously. I want to put intellect on pause so we can enter the heart mind. I’m still on the same page as Kabat-Zinn, but I need a term that opens a few more doors for those who are confused by all the definitions swirling around. Based on that, I chose the word contemplative to Re.Mind. us of self and the suffering of others; of “bringing something, esp. a commitment or necessary course of action, to the attention of (someone)” by cutting out or creating a space for observance and insight.
So, what’s this blog all about? It’s a journey toward being empathetic, compassionate, socially just. It’s not about sitting on a cushion or walking meditation, although that doesn’t mean I won’t write about it. There are no bells or gongs unless you choose to use one. It’s about the practice of being human, of being in community. It is the practice of being kind, of care, of love. I depend on my practice when I’m mad at my job or someone who has done me wrong. I depend on my practice when my heart is broken by killings, abuse, deceit, racism, sexism, classism, and all the other isms. During times like these, it is imperative to back away, just for a moment. It’s time to take a breath. Re.Mind. and determine the next step and to create space so I can be clear, never denying the truths or the community that surrounds me, while re-engaging with my spirit.
So, there you have it. Contemplative. That’s the term that I use most times. That is unless I’m being mindful of the value of mindfulness. Then you can call me out on it or simply quote Kabat-Zinn. Re.Mind. All I’m doing is simply referencing the mind by trying to become a clear, empathetic warrior, grounded in the present moment, without judgment. Simply listening to my heart and doing what I hope is just.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.