Advertisement

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Metaphors for Mindfulness: Why do you think metaphor is such a powerful tool for clarifying and encouraging mindfulness?

Robert Frost warned, “Unless you
are at home in the metaphor, unless you have had your proper poetical education
in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere.” And it’s not just poetic
metaphors; metaphors are everywhere in our language in our concepts and many of
these come from our physical bodies and the way our brain is organized.

e use metaphors to understand
something novel. There was a time when we did not have a word for being. To
understand this abstract concept and to create the verb “to be” we (or our
Sanskrit speaking ancestors) compared it to growing and breathing, 

Advertisement

To be comes from the Sanskrit bhu
to grow or to make grow

‘Am’ and ‘is’ evolved from the same root as
the Sanskrit asmi – to breathe

The late psychologist Julian Jayne
said, It is something of a lovely surprise that the irregular conjugation of
our most nondescript verb is thus a record of a time when man had no
independent word for ‘existence’ and could only say that something ‘grows’ or
that it ‘breathes.'”

Advertisement

Thumbnail image for Wild chickens revisions 3.jpg

Of course this is VERY interesting
because breathing is central to the practice of mindfulness and we can think
about mindfulness as a practice of being – shifting us from human doings to
human beings.

For mindfulness as an experiential
concept we can only understand it by referring to things we already know. The
mind, for, instance can only be understood with metaphors and is powerfully
shaped by them. Understanding the self is also relies on metaphor, and I would
go a step further and say that what we consider to be the self IS a metaphor.
That was the Buddha’s central message: the self is a metaphor.

Advertisement

Our brains handle the overwhelming
amounts of information and new information through the use of categories. So we
are always attempting to understand one thing that we are encountering with
another thing that we already know. We do this through categories. So if I see
a leaf or a chair that I’ve never seen before I can recognize them as such
because I understand this leaf or chair by comparison to all the other leaves
and chairs I’ve seen. This allows us to move through the world efficiently. We
have to be careful with this, however, because we can tend to lump distinctive
experiences together into the same categories. Ronald Regan is notorious for
saying if you’ve seen one Redwood tree you’ve seen them all. Mindfulness helps
us to appreciate the uniqueness of each experience.or more on metaphors for mindfulness, read my book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness published by Wisdom in 2009. 

Previous Posts

Mindful America: Are You Part of the Movement?
I have just finished reading Jeff Wilson's Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture. Wilson is an associate professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies at Renison University College ...

posted 6:35:19pm May. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Introvert Overload: Redefining Rest
The other day I had an unusual Thursday. My typical Thursday involves an afternoon of clinical practice. This particular Thursday, in addition to my clinical hours I had a number of extra-curricular activities. It was a concatenation of ...

posted 9:20:24am May. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Alone Time Requires Skill, Courage, and Planning
I read an interesting piece on spending time alone recently by Cassandra Bodzak. In a culture dominated by extrovert values, being alone might ...

posted 9:44:48am May. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Protect and renew your energy as seen on Oprah.com from the Awakened Introvert
I am pleased to share that Oprah.com has published an excerpt from The Awakened Introvert. It's on the "Shift Your Life" section of Oprah that provides interactive ways to make changes in your life. They took an excerpt from the energy ...

posted 2:01:41pm May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

Conversationally-Induced Comas
A recent cartoon in The New Yorker portrays a couple having coffee on a sidewalk cafe. The female member of the couple is lying prostrate in her chair, being attended to by EMTs. One EMT says to the other, "She's in a conversationally induced ...

posted 11:20:58am May. 12, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.