Most people have heard of mindfulness, and it generally has a good press… being in touch with what is really happening intuitively seems like a good idea; not being distracted by thoughts about what we ought to be doing or have done or might do, which take us away from the job in hand – that must make for better productivity; not being permanently afloat on some cloud of make-believe – well, that has a kind of guilty feelings about it, though, for all that, fantasy is ok so long as we know it’s fantasy.
So yes, mindfulness is a good thing – let go of thoughts, focus, centre, be aware, connect with yourself… but then what? Does everything freeze? Some sort of suspended animation?
I have always wanted the way we looked at mindfulness to include the notion of flow.
Talking about “mindfulness moments” has always felt too static, because living is analogue, not digital, and we don’t look back at our day as a series of edits or screenshots – we were there all through, joining up the movie. Every day we are in every scene, and the action is continuous.
Now, of course, we can easily see how life is physically continuous but doesn’t it feel as if there is something else which is running all the time, like a thread connecting everything, like a melody playing in the background, like the background music in a film, which reflects what is happening, but is also a part of what is happening?
We need to think of ‘Mindfulness’ differently; we need it to be a ‘Musicking Mindfulness.’ A funny way to spell music, you might think – a bit medieval or a bit folksy. Maybe, but the ‘k’ is a ‘kinetic k,’ and the ‘music’ does not necessarily have anything to do with what we usually think of as music. Or it might.
Using the Flow
Let me give you an idea of what I mean…
When you’re walking along, and you can feel your body relaxed because you’ve got the pace and the rhythm just right and it fits your mood and how your spirit is, and it suits the ground beneath your feet – then you are musicking.
If you sit with bare feet dangling in a stream and twiddle your toes and notice how they move and you swirl your feet around and then keep doing it and let them develop a rhythm – you are musicking.
If you go outside and let the noises of the country or the town drift around you and envelope you, not trying to block anything but just hearing the ‘outsideness’ – then you are musicking. And if you listen to a favourite song and let it take you over, so that your whole being starts moving to its beat – then you are musicking.
‘Musicking’ is one of the three components in what I like to call the ‘New Mindfulness,’ or better still, simply, ‘Flow.’
There are two more components:
One is ‘dialoguing.’ Which sounds easy because isn’t that just talking? Well, sort of, but it’s not just one way. You have to listen as well. Really listen, that is.
The third component is ‘levelling.’ Now that one is not so obvious, but if you want a picture to liken it to – think of being in a crowd in a park watching an event, but instead of some people being tall and some not, so that you might be able to see – “I’m alright, I’m up here” – or might not, or perhaps you could see, but then someone moves in front of you – grrr!… ok, instead of that, everyone is on a level, and everyone can see. That’s rather a simplistic example because levelling goes a bit further than physical difference, for it is about everyone being just as human (and valid) as everyone else and just as human as we are ourselves.
We need levelling in order to be able to do the genuine dialoguing. Because dialoguing (as opposed to talking) needs listening as well, and listening – genuine listening – means getting as close as we can to what the other person really means as who they are, as opposed to what we (as who we are) would like them to mean or what we assume they must mean.
And we need musicking so that we keep flowing and don’t get hung up on isolated bits, whether they are the good bits or the bad bits, but most often the bad bits.
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