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The other side of mindfulness

It's hard not to laugh a little when I hear about people “practicing mindfulness”, like were you just walking around, engaging with the world without using your brain? But as I laugh, I realize that people are, in fact, walking around on autopilot quite often. This realization is vulgarly clear to me as I engage in my own mindfulness practices. 


One of the ways I engage in mindfulness is by only using my phone if I need something from it. If I’m in some space where I have time to pass, I notice many other folks scrolling through their devices. If we have a free moment we might take a scroll through social media, or make a deposit to HEB in exchange for a curbside order, or to finish reading an article we opened in a new tab. 


Despite the litany of services that advertise to us through these devices to eschew the inconveniences of waiting in line, or otherwise having to breach the outdoors for something, some of us still find ourselves in public, during moments of productive purgatory– like waiting to get your blood drawn or whatever. 


In my observations of these instances in humanity, 90% of the time, 90% of the occupants of the space will fondle their phones throughout their wait. Seemingly to occupy themselves to avoid acknowledging ourselves as strangers in public together.


Have you ever tried to not be on your phone in one of these spaces? There’s a real feeling of otherness, that could stimulate paranoia that we’re being judged for not engaging in the status quo behavior. Do people think I’m a weirdo because I’m not fondling my phone with them?


Internet connectivity is replacing human connectivity.


It's everywhere, unavoidable. Articles about artificial intelligence, news about the carpetbagging tech corporations finally leaving, and seat belts. We are living in a Sodom and Gomorrah of tech, and I’m surprised we’re not asking harder, “is this even good for us anymore?”


For example, have you ever thought about how much radiation we’re exposing ourselves to with all this wifi, bluetooth, and everything? I read a statistic somewhere that humans are exposed to TRILLIONS of times more radiation now than we were in the 1950s. (Which, I hear, was a peak atomic testing era). Are we slowly microwaving ourselves? (Ed note: I’m purposely neglecting to link to any sources. Feel free to fact check me on this, but as you do, take note of the differences in responses you get from .gov websites than .org or European sources).


I don’t know what to do about this other than to remain mindful of it myself. And, I suppose, share it with y’all. 


In my lifestyle of mindfulness, living with intention has become a foundational initiative. With so much mindfulness going on, I’ve found that the human experience begs imperfection. During my last few years of abstinence from alcohol, and opening up to yoga, kombucha brewing, following 'intuitive healers' on social media, I can’t help but wonder if the pursuit of enlightenment subverts the human experience. Even just a little bit.


Dualism dictates that for each thing exists an equal but opposite thing. Very Newtonian, you’ll catch on quick. Hopefully, it won’t offend too many folks if I reference the Bible on this one: dualism dictates that since there is heaven, then there too is hell. As above, so below. As within, so without. As there are apples, there will be oranges. 


As there is mindfulness, there is mindlessness. 


With all of this mindfulness and empathy going on, where is the room for apathy? 


In “living our best lives” by making healthy choices for our bodies, like eating good food, exercising and praying to Satan, are we stifling facets of our humanity? 


It's rare we set an intention to do something of ill-will (on purpose). Or maybe I’m wrong, sound off in the comments if anybody else is setting the intention of “fucking shit up”. The Universe exists in balance. To maintain our human homeostasis, this empathy we hold for ourselves and fellow folks must be balanced out with apathy. 


After these last few years, I’ve not metamorphosed into anything cool, or become an ‘ascended master’ of anything, so it turns out that my humanity remains intact. What to do with this humanity? Goethe, or somebody else associated with similarly quoted but not actually read work said something like, “to live is to suffer” (Ed. note: this quote is often misattributed to Nietzsche but actually belongs to Gordon Allport. The rest of the quote reads, “to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering”. I stand behind the thingy about being seldom read but often quoted). If suffering is the point of experiencing humanity, is causing suffering just as valid?


Sometimes, we have to make the mindful decision in life to make someone else’s day worse. Not always is this mindful, and not always do we even have to try– some people are going to have a bad day regardless of what you choose to do or not. But sometimes to get what we want, we have to pee in someone else’s garden. 


I actually think a lot of earthwalkers already engage in apathetic behavior, even– if not especially– outside of mindfulness. The greed, arrogance and hubris seen in corporate leadership, politicians, wherever is so disgusting to us probably because we are jealous and wish we could inflict the same scorn upon humanity with seemingly little remorse.


Anybody who goes to therapy can confirm that if one experiences anger towards someone or something, that anger is a result of seeing a part of ourselves reflected back at us. So when it comes to the greed powering this consumption that is swallowing the earth, that the irritation a lot of us feel towards the individuals responsible is actually self directed. Which is frustrating, clearly the Koch brothers are the ones who are assholes, why should I change? Because they’re not going to, so the least you can do is be a little more like them. Maybe its time to abuse someone else’s power to increase your own.

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