Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

Everything Essential Buddhism Book
I was recently on the Mark Johnson Show on WDEV in Vermont. We spoke about the Buddha and Buddhism themes that are covered in my new book, The Everything Essential Buddhism Book. It's always a pleasure to talk with mark and a touch of sadness to ...

posted 10:05:58am Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Don't Own Your Mind
Our brains are little factories. Their chief product is, of course, thoughts. They also manufacture images, memories, and emotions. Best of all, they fabricate stories. Our brains can do this unbidden, without any direction from us. Given the ...

posted 6:36:24pm Aug. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Relationships 2.0 Interview August 11
Tune in Tuesday August 11 at 6 PM (3 PM PST) for my radio conversation with Dr. Michelle Skeen, host of Relationships 2.0. We'll be discussing relationship challenges for introverts and guidance from my book, The Awakened Introvert. If you ...

posted 9:00:13pm Aug. 10, 2015 | read full post »

Coming Soon: Mindfulness A to Z
2015 has been a busy year for me publishing books. In May, The Awakened Introvert came out (New Harbinger). In July, The Everything Essential Buddhism Book came out (Adams Media). Soon, Mindfulness A to Z: 108 Insights for Awakening Now (Wisdom ...

posted 12:46:02pm Aug. 04, 2015 | read full post »

Life Interrupted
I've been thinking a lot about interruptions lately. When I meditate in the mornings, I prefer to do it at a time when I won't be interrupted by others. Yet, even in the most protected environment, interruptions are inevitable. My mind will ...

posted 4:50:31pm Jul. 28, 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.