Almost before I’d even begun this project—which is still very much taking shape, finding form and direction, its raison d’être—I knew I would need to address my own ambivalence toward the language of mindfulness. That the word itself doesn’t appear in the name of this site is no accident, and not only because I thought it too limited for the eclectic approach I hope to take. I have an aversion to trends as such, and to what an acquaintance recently referred to as “spiritual materialism.” If I do yoga now and then, it’s not because I find it “karmalicious.”
It’s all too easy to sound highfaluting, insubstantial, or glib when writing about things like the mind–body connection—when what interests me is substance and an honest and grounded experience of living. I care about integrity, which, like its relative “integer,” means “undivided, whole.” A state in which feeling, thought, word, and deed resonate. I care about these things—but am I an exemplar?
That was a rhetorical question! Just when I think I’m making progress, life has a way of humbling me. This evening’s lesson came in the form of a five-year-old boy who had no interest in my therapeutic gambits on his behalf. (A quick look at the word “gambit” perhaps holds the answer; he may have felt he would be giving me some advantage.) I asked, for example, “If you could be an animal, what kind of animal would you be?” He made no bones about it: “I don’t want to be an animal!” But what do I mean by “progress,” anyway? That’s a fertile subject in itself. If “humble” is related to “humus,” there is rich matter there in the decomposition—the makings of new growth and the thrilling possibility of eventual flowers, honeybees, and fruition.