Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Waking Up is a Revolutionary Act: A Manifesto for Mindful Living, Part Two: Put Yourself In Context

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

As I alluded to in the entry, The Mindfulness Revolution, any good revolution needs a manifesto. So here it is, part one of ten. There is a book out called the Mindfulness Manifesto and I confess that I haven’t read it. Here is my version. To adumbrate, here are the ten chapters that comprise it:

      1. Start Right Here, Right Now
      2. Put Yourself in Context
      3. Put That Big Brain to Good Use
      4. Get Beyond Yourself
      5. Be Good
      6. Embrace Change
      7. Practice Happiness
      8. Attune, Resonate, Integrate
      9. Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid
      10. Be Self-Reliant

2. Put Yourself in Context

The universe has been around for a while; the Earth too. Billions of years. Time before time.

The earth is 4.5 billion years old. The universe is 15 billion years old. Modern humans have been around for approximately 100,000 years. We are one of the 20 humanoid species to survive. If you do the math, humans have occupied only fraction of a sliver of time on this planet.

Despite our insignificant place within the cosmos we take ourselves so seriously.

The universe and Earth will carry on without us, even if we manage to do some catastrophic damage to it. If we don’t wake up in some collective fashion, and soon, we’ll probably ruin the party for everyone and everything else.

In the movie, Contact, the main character Eleanor Arroway considers the one question she would ask an alien intelligence, should she have the opportunity to meet them. She replies, “How did you do it? How did you survive your technological adolescence without destroying yourselves?”

For our individual selves, the same contexts apply. We have the context of our entire life and this moment is just a sliver of a fraction of that. Do we need to take it so seriously?

Can we do this? We’ll see. Perhaps if we don’t take ourselves so seriously and considered the broader context and weren’t so fixated on being right (instead of just being), then we’d have a better chance.

Each moment that goes by when the stars are just faint images in the background or a quaint romantic notion we are asleep to the bigger context that holds us. Each moment that we turn away from the sky we become disconnected from the arc of the cosmos. When our vision extends to the tip of our nose, we die to the trivial, lost in our stories of me and mine.

Consider this context: Some how over billions of years life evolved on this planet and to our knowledge as of yet, nowhere else. Consider further that our particular configuration of biology can consider itself, contemplate its own existence, study itself and other things, understand it to some degree through science. This set of facts should just blow our minds everyday, yet how often to we consider this precious and fragile set of circumstances?

Of course, we don’t want to spend all our time being in awe of the larger context, we have things we need to get done. What I’m suggesting, inviting, even demanding is that you spend at least some time every day recognizing what it means to be a human being.

Our brains like to take things out of context and make a big deal out of something. When we take a perception, judgment, even fact out of context it can lead to distorted interpretations.

Recognize where you are in space and time; place yourself in your body and notice how this body is in constant exchange: air, water, food with the world around it. And, of course, there is social exchange too.

Awe should arise from this contemplation. Gratitude should arise too. See if you can bring a trace of awe and gratitude into your next meeting, into your next conversation. Perhaps this awe and gratitude can squeeze out the rumination on whatever story you are currently preoccupied with.

The vastness of the Earth and the universe can be appreciated by a mind that can become vast when it relinquishes the banal (“Does she like me, Am I getting enough?, Will things go my way, Will I have to be uncomfortable (God forbid I have to be uncomfortable, that should not happen to ME, and I must avoid it at all costs) … “)

We are all just fleeting specs of dust in time. Don’t take yourself so seriously!

Waking Up is a Revolutionary Act: A Manifesto for Mindful Living was inspired by Experience Life magazine, Editor-in-Chief, Pilar Gerasimo’s, articleBeing Healthy is a Revolutionary Act: Renegade Perspectives for Thriving in a Mixed Up World, and its accompanying A Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed Up World. Visit http://RevolutionaryAct.com, the website devoted to Being Healthy is a Revolutionary Act: A Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed-Up World and download your own copy of the manifesto and join the movement! Read more about Experience Life here.


  • http://www.louellabryant.com Ellie

    Perfect timing for this wise advice. Keep the manifesto rolling! And thanks.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Richard

    In the last two centuries, humans created processes to feed and nurture themselves that permit population growth which strains, and perhaps exceeds, the planets natural resouces sustainability capacity. In that same time, humans developed at least three capacities that might permanently affect the planet atmoshpheric qualities that enable carbon-based life to exist: carbon & nuclear energy production emissions and waste products, chemically altered environmental inputs (fertilizers, etc.), and nuclear weapons capacity. Technological advances like these and others are examples of swift changes which (perhaps) outpace the evolutionary advancement of the collective human wisdom necessary to manage all their outcomes. The trick will be to avoid accidental or malicious employment of technology that inflicts irreversible atmospheric catastrophe, while allowing sufficient time for inherent collective human intelligence to recognize necessary behaviorial norms to adopt to ensure survival of carbon-based life on earth.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mike Gingold

    Can you please explain #9 to a non-American?

    • Dr. Arnie Kozak

      HI Mike. Thanks for reading the blog. You’ll have to stay tuned for the full treatment on this issue, but the brief explanation is not to buy into false beliefs. Don’t drink the kool-aid refers to the brainwashing that occurred at Jonestown in the 1970s. More later.

Previous Posts

Citizen of the Cosmos
I recently heard Ann Druyan interviewed on Radio Lab. She spoke of falling in love with Carl Sagan when they were working together on the Voyager mission in the late 70s, where she was in charge of developing the content that would be sent out into space for alien cultures to discover. It was a touc

posted 9:59:05am Oct. 14, 2014 | read full post »

The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery
Polly Young-Eisendrath has a new book out, her fourteenth. This is a book like no other that I've ever read. It is a memoir and it recounts events that I lived through as dharma friends of Polly and the love of her life, Ed Epstein. The Present Heart is a statement on the nature of love. It defin

posted 8:41:37am Oct. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Mindfulness and Climate Action
One Earth Sangha presents Mindfulness and Climate Action, a series of online conversations. These are free and start today and will continue through October into November. I am especially excited that Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield will be presenting today. I hope you can catch it. You can regi

posted 8:31:51am Oct. 05, 2014 | read full post »

A Chilling View Inside the Quiet Room: Electric Shocks Preferred to Sitting Still
A study recently published in Science provides a window into the restless soul of Americans and a compelling case of why we need mindfulness. University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues conducted a series of experiments where subjects spent time alone in an unadorned room. We

posted 8:53:12am Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Drive by Shooting: Mindfulness on NPR
It's not surprising when a feature on mindfulness appears in a major media outlet. Mindfulness is popular. This time it is a sub-four minute interview on NPR. Tamara Keith spoke with Sharon Salzberg, one of the co-

posted 6:25:54pm Jul. 22, 2014 | 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.