Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

One Metaphor Every 10 to 25 Words: The Poetry of Everyday Life by David Brooks

New York Times columnist David Brooks, recently opined on the ubiquity of metaphors mentioning the work of Lakoff and Johnson as well as what sounds like an intriguing book entitled “I is An Other” by James Geary (soon to be on my reading table).

I’ve long appreciated the work of Lakoff and Johnson since reading their 1980 classic, Metaphors We Live By, in 1988. That book had a profound influence on my professional career, culminating in the publication of Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness that explores the ubiquity of metaphors for mind, self, acceptance, and dealing with everyday life.


Brooks says:

Most of us, when asked to stop and think about it, are by now aware of the pervasiveness of metaphorical thinking. But in the normal rush of events, we often see straight through metaphors, unaware of how they refract perceptions. So it’s probably important to pause once a month or so to pierce the illusion that we see the world directly. It’s good to pause to appreciate how flexible and tenuous our grip on reality actually is.

I would suggest pausing more than once a month on this important topic. Why not do it everyday? And why not do it in the context of mindfulness meditation? When we meditate we might catch a glimpse of this “refracting” process; how we allow one mind moment to shape the next, and how we can perpetuate ourselves through time using memories as metaphors for what comes next. When we practice mindfulness we can see how we construct a world with thought, image, and emotion glued together by memory and anticipated future memories.


By spending time contemplating our metaphors, we might as Brooks suggests:

To be aware of the central role metaphors play is to be aware of how imprecise our most important thinking is. It’s to be aware of the constant need to question metaphors with data — to separate the living from the dead ones, and the authentic metaphors that seek to illuminate the world from the tinny advertising and political metaphors that seek to manipulate it.

I encourage this healthy skepticism regarding our thought and the language and images we consume on a near constant basis. As I have said elsewhere, we cannot understand our mind without metaphors, so we want to be mindful of what metaphors we employ and perhaps consider not “believing” any of them. Likewise, we cannot understand what it is to be a self without metaphors.

The more radical proposition is that what we regard as self is not just understood through metaphor but is itself, a metaphor. For more on that look forward to my forthcoming article in the journal of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment My Name

    Mindfulness IS a rocky road. It never promised anyone a rose garden. Now THERE’s another two metaphors …

Previous Posts

Thanksgiving 2015
If you've read my posts about Thanksgiving before, you know my basic premise is that we should be thankful everyday, not just this day. In fact, we could be thankful in every moment we are alive. Each moment that we are not, we are missing an ...

posted 9:01:46am Nov. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Meditating on Resistance
Earlier this season, just about the time when kids went back to school, I started noticing something. Roxy, a dog in my neighborhood would ...

posted 12:24:08pm Nov. 02, 2015 | read full post »

How to Live Well with Chronic Illness and Pain
I wrote a prepublication endorsement for Toni Bernhard’s latest book: How to Live Well With Chronic Illness and Pain:  As a psychotherapist treating chronic pain, I wish this book had been written years ago. This is an invaluable guide for ...

posted 11:38:57am Oct. 14, 2015 | read full post »

S is for Sangha
Mindfulness A to Z official release is here! Here is an excerpt from "S is for Sangha" The sangha is the community of people who follow the teachings of the Buddha, or more generically, anyone who engages in mindfulness meditation. When ...

posted 10:31:30am Sep. 22, 2015 | read full post »

E is for Effort
Mindfulness A to Z official release is tomorrow! Here is an excerpt from "E is for Effort" We may need to encourage ourselves gently in the direction of practice. Challenges arise. Daily life is complicated and busy; it may seem like we ...

posted 3:25:12pm Sep. 21, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

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

All reported content is logged for investigation.