Pedagogica –
"Mindfulness", hearing our own listening

“Mindfulness” (in the intercultural field we generally call it “awareness") has become such a big part of psychobabble, that we really need to pay attention to exactly what we mean buy into it. For me it is essentially the act of attempting to posit ourselves in a neutral point where we are capable of listening to the flow of discourse (emotional as well as content) while at the same time recognizing that it is our autonomous system attempting to provide us with interpretations of the realities we are experiencing. Essentially listening is accomplished by the autonomous system delivering potential interpretations (simply put, “talking to ourselves”) and our then choosing which inner conversation we are hearing seems most fit the reality and the needs we are experiencing as a result of it. Mostly what we call "thinking" would be better described as "listening to ourselves."

It is important to realize from an intercultural perspective that the “conversations” we are having with ourselves are actually our culture speaking to us. When I use the word “conversations” is shorthand for the combinations of self-talk, images, sounds, and feelings flowing from what Kahlemen calls “thinking fast”.

This listening to ourselves listen to me as mindfulness, and should be a habitual resource for us to access, keeping us from being driven by the knee-jerk obedience to the unconscious flow. This can be abetted by certain practices of reflection and meditation, some of which have been a good part of many of our religious traditional disciplines. I myself got some training in this by a Theravadan Buddhist monk who conducted sessions in one of our winter term projects when I was working at Oberlin college In the 1970s, and I feel like it has stood me in good stead since. In the Theravadan tradition, this flow is often identified as “defilements”. For me it is just the flow of my listening…

All too much of Eastern traditional savvy have been californicated, so one must be careful to extract the true guru from the goo of “true believers.”


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