Mindfulness Relaxed Focus

This is the third installment in an ongoing series.

Mindfulness is one of those words that’s become a pop-culture buzzword.

It’s used to tell people that they ought to calm down and focus on the present moment. Not only that, they should make a lifestyle out of calming down and focusing. Cool people are mindful. Not being mindful, in fact, is a spiritual failing.

True, calming down is often a good idea.

Wild parties, sporting events, exercise, violent attacks, and imminent physical danger are probably the only occasions when it’s advantageous to be emotionally and physically agitated. Yet, those are also times when it’s a good idea pay attention to what you’re doing.

More importantly, the word “mindful” has the word “mind” as its root. The human mind is unique precisely in its ability to consider things that are not happening in the present moment. What makes us human is our ability to consider things that occurred in the recent or distant past and apply them to the near or distant future.

Mindfulness is often equated with meditation.

Photo by madison lavern on Unsplash

But having practiced several different types of meditation in my life and studied many more, I’ve noticed that one of the features of all of them is disregarding the contents and constructs of the mind. In fact, by settling into a pattern of stillness and focusing on one’s environment and breathing, you could say that meditation is more accurately about “bodifulness” than mindfulness.

A less value-laden, nonjudgmental way of talking about the meditative state of being is simply to describe it: relaxed focus.

Next time you see or read the word “mindfulness,” try substituting the phrase “relaxed focus” instead.

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