Updated: Jun 11
What might be the most helpful thing to do when you are not getting anywhere.
Writer: Jace Lee
(This article was first published here.)
Image and words by author, Jace Loi
The biggest challenge as a mindfulness teacher
The limitation of teaching the ideas of living, of embodying, and practicing is that more often than not, we still need to use words. Our mind likes to grasp onto something concrete e.g. a word, a definition, or a meaning. Every time a word is thrown out, the mind devours it like a hungry bear, distracting us from the essence of our bodily experience.
Take the example of eating an apple
Generally, satisfaction can be derived in two ways when we eat an apple.
From direct sensorial experience
From conceptual cognitive thinking
How do we eat with our thinking? You may be surprised. We can quickly put an apple in our mouth, bite, chew, and swallow without any recollection of the looks, taste, texture, smell, or sounds of the crunching. Instead, our attention proliferates as head energy — be it thinking or unintentionally completing the action as some task, or idealized expectation, or identification of who we are. For example -
“I feel good that I am taking such good care of myself by eating this apple.” — (Need for identification)
“I feel good because I am taking care of myself.” — (Objective driven)
“After I get this apple done, this is my fruit of the day.” — (Checklist of tasks)
‘This tastes sweeter than the other apples.” — (Expectation and comparison)
Thinking dominates our life
The default mode for many of us in modern city life is to experience almost all aspects of our life through conceptual thinking. I have seen many, myself included, during spiritual practices, valuing and rushing into contemplation, reflection, and insight. Missing out on the simplicity but richness of direct sensorial experience.
There are plenty of ‘insidious’ ways for the mind to take charge at any moment. Many times, thinking does give satisfaction. However, when it becomes an autopilot mode for life, then that’s when we might get stuck. Simply because there are many things in life that thinking itself is only a small part of the experience.
Remember those times when the idea of planning or visualizing certain activities feels better than when you are actually doing them?
Maybe those are the exact things that require the ‘non-thinking’ form of experiencing.
Embodying meaning without using words
Embodied experiencing, emphasized in different forms of practice like mindfulness and yoga, is the practice of committing to our senses. Inevitably, life feels a little empty when we habitually miss out on our body sensations.
Can we let go of what it means to drop into a full embodied experience of this moment? Walking in the park. Laying by the beach. Hiking in the mountains. A hug. A kiss.
Can we experience meaning without words?
Meaning in full bloom, in full expression, in full ecstasy through the intimate sensing of the body.
And let the senses dance
When it doesn’t matter what life means.. but just breathe. Breathe like it’s your last. Taste. Smell. See. Listen. Touch. Live...
I am sorry... pardon me for all these words.
So... how do I explain all that I feel?
Image and words by author, Jace Loi (More doodles on Insta @MingMindfulness)