Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

“Reality is Unforgivingly Complex”

I came across the title quotation–“reality is unforgivingly complex”–reading Anne Lamott’s bestselling book, Bird by Bird. This observation will be the basis for my reflections today. What does she mean by this? As a shorthand, we’ll think of reality as the things that happen to us–weather, accidents, medical events, how dinner turns out.


I think we’d like things to be simpler, clean-cut, black and white, yet how often are things actually so? We lump things into categories for efficiency, yet the things we lump are unique. We overlook the differences for the sake of simplicity. Maybe the differences don’t matter, but in some cases–especially when it comes to our relationships and emotions–it does matter.

Whatever experience you are having right now is one that you’ve never had before. Perhaps you’ve had a similar one, but not this exact one. Can you find the singular aspects of what this moment provides?

Mindfulness helps us to see that reality is complex, and unforgvingly so. Things happen that we don’t want to happen, we make mistakes, we lose things dear to us. The world is a mess, environmentally, politically, and economically. Polticians reduce the complexity to sound bytes. Something important gets lost in the process.


Reality is unforgiving because it does not care about us. Of course, we are part of reality, it does not stand outside of us. We participate in the unfolding of reality. Life is a mix of randomness and intention. Mindfulness will help us to have more intention and less randomness (or at least randomness that can be averted through thoughtful action). When reality intrudes itself upon us without compunction, mindfulness will help us to cope with the consequences of this moment.

Mindfulness can help us to be okay, no matter what is happening, no matter how “unforgivingly complex” reality might be.

  • Ellie

    “Just because reality is ultimately immeasurable doesn’t mean it isn’t a son of a bitch.” ~ Odin

Previous Posts

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 »

S is for Self
Mindfulness A to Z official release is tomorrow! Here is an excerpt from "S is for Self" Who are you? Emily Dickinson would reply: I’m nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody, too? Most of us would naturally reply, “I am me.” More ...

posted 10:28:58am 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.