Mindful Monday #5

How have you been dealing with all the chaos that’s unfolding in the world?

I’ve been watching the sunrise meticulously since the pandemic has started, which has inspired me to talk about mindfulness and philosophy again. Today I’ll talk about something rather important; discrimination and how to uncover our subconscious biases. First, let’s talk some nature.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but have you ever truly pondered over how consistent the sun is? There’s not a single day that it fails to rise and set, from the exact same location. This may seem trivial to us, only because we’re so used to it. But it really is a miraculous sighting.

I’ve also been able to watch the birds a little more lately. It just astonishes me how they live so purposefully. Like they know exactly what they’re meant to be doing. The patterns in which they fly, the food that they find, the nests that they create, the churping every morning. It’s all so planned, so detailed, so focused.

We think of ourselves as being superior to animals such as birds, but look at how unfocused and bored we tend to be.

I reckon we should try and learn more from the birds and bees. To live in the present moment with conviction and purpose whilst following our values.

One of the ways in which I love to bring myself to the present is by focusing on flowers. By truly observing the shape, the texture, the colour, the scent, everything about it.

Okay now that we’ve explored a bit of mindfulness, let’s dive into something a little deeper, that also requires us to be mindful.

Discrimination

Another very relevant topic to speak about is the concept of racism and discrimination. There’s so much going on from a social media point of view that it may often leave us stifled. It’s not easy to be constantly bombarded with negative news.

So how do we find a balance between having uncomfortable conversations that lead to growth, engaging in the revolution and still look after our mental health?

Personally speaking, it often starts with purpose. When we’re aware of why we do what we do, we can be a lot more intentional. We need to understand why equity is important and what we can do to improve as a society, especially with regards to inclusivity.

We need to understand why the system favours a certain race. We need to understand more. This can only be done through education.

The three activities that I’ve actively engaged in include; reading, journalling and having discussions. These are probably the most effective tools that allow me to learn and improve rapidly. To find flaws in my way of thinking and to unlearn the negative conditioning.

Reading books by black authors, using prompt questions when journalling and actively speaking to people who are willing to share their experiences.

The thing with racism is that we’re taught it. It’s not a natural feeling. It’s not part of your genes. It’s a mindset carried down through generations, deeply influenced by society and the media. We need to treat people based on their character and conduct, things that they themselves can control.

I just thought I’d have a brief moment of reflection this Mindful Monday. We’re going through quite a revolutionary time. We are the future. We are responsible for the energy we bring into the world. It’s time to rise above the injustice and learn from history.

How much longer does life have to keep teaching us the same lessons?

Meditations

How can we follow our nature? Can we lose anything other than the present? How can we learn to accept death and make the most of our time? Why are we so bothered by other people?

I’m so excited to be talking to you about my favourite philosophy book; ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. Despite the title of the book, it has little to do with meditation. It’s all about stoicism, which is a genre of philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor around the period of 161 AD.

In today’s post, I’ll be talking all about death, following your nature, living in the present moment, dealing with your thoughts and being straightforward in your actions. Absolutely critical for times like this, when things seem to be falling out of control. Here are key takings from the book:

  1. Discard your misperceptions
  2. Limit yourself to the present
  3. Anticipate your final hours

I’ll be quoting a lot directly from the book, as I won’t be able to paraphrase everything.

The world is maintained by change.

Human Nature

Maintaining your character is key to living a fulfilling life. Ask yourself at every moment: ‘Is this necessary?’

The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. >> Your soul takes on the colour of your thoughts. Avoid randomness. No pointless thoughts or actions. Let your thoughts be that of an unselfish person. Unconcerned with pleasure and sensual indulgence.

“If it doesn’t harm your character, how can it harm your life?”

There is an emphasis on self-control and resisting distractions within this philosophy. Not falling into temptations or desire. Being straight, not straightened. Work for proper understanding; unselfish action; truthful speech.

We have control over our perceptions. It’s inappropriate to judge things as being “good” or “evil”. Our interpretations of the objects and events are the problem. Protect your mind from error and accept what’s out of your control.

“Nowhere you can go is more peaceful – more free of interruptions- than your own soul.”

Practice virtues that you can show: Honesty, endurance, abstinence, patience, sincerity, moderation, resilience, seriousness. If it’s not right – don’t do it. If it’s not true – don’t say it.

We need to master the art of acquiescence. Pay attention to your impulses, make sure they don’t go unmoderated. Steer clear of your desires.

Get back up when you fail – celebrate behaving like a human. Stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable.

“Our own worth is determined by what we devote our energy to.”

Death

“Don’t live as if you have endless days ahead of you. Death overshadows you. While you’re alive and able – be good.”

If you do everything as if it were the last thing you ever did, you would live with so much more passion. Look at how soon we’re all forgotten. Disturbance only comes from within; the way we perceive the world.

Recognize that the difference between years from now and tomorrow is just as small. Death is inevitable. It’s the end of sense-perception, of being controlled by emotions, mental activity & enslavement to our bodies.

Why should we fear what’s bound to happen? It’s part of the flux of life. All those before you, long gone. All those to come, soon to go. Utilize the days you have to work on your character and help those around you.

Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

Disgraceful: For the soul to give up when the body is still going strong.”

Life is short. That’s all there is to say. Get what you can from the present – thoughtfully and justly.

Now

You can’t lose the past or the future, how could you lose what you don’t have?

Those who are alive today regardless of age, location, or race only have this present moment. A thousand more years or just one more day, what’s the difference?

The present is the same for everyone, its loss is the same. Don’t forget that.

“Change and flux constantly remake the world, just as the incessant progression of time remakes eternity.”

Be grateful for all that you have. Imagine how much you’d crave any of your blessings if they were to perish.

Short-lived creatures; long dead.

Serving Others

Everyone has a nature similar to our own. Even those who do us wrong are made of the same material. We were all born to work together, like feet, hands and eyes. We are all connected. Each of us are limbs, connected to the planet like a body.

Help others and be eager to share. How else are we meant to grow and flourish as a species? To care for all human beings is part of being human. Pride is a master of deception. To help others is to ultimately help yourself.

What use is praise except to make your lifestyle a little more comfortable?

The truth never harmed anyone. We harm ourselves by persisting in self-deceit and ignorance. By accepting what has been ordained unto us; that is wisdom. Don’t be ashamed to need help. Where does blaming others get you?

This book is phenomenal in helping you deal with pain and to overcome struggles. I highly recommend you give it a read for yourself, to fully absorb the wisdom behind it.

Stay present. Remember death. Serve those around you and follow your nature. This too shall pass.