Saturday, May 18, 2024
May 18, 2024

Nobody Asked Me, But: Franchising mindfulness

Mindfulness. It’s everywhere these days. Not so much the act. Nor the practice. Just the word. Mindfulness.  

You will find it printed on colourful posters tacked onto bulletin boards outside Barb’s Buns or Country Grocer. It is all over social network message boards. It is ubiquitous and is being used to flog everything from weight loss to better sex. Life coaching ads have a particular affinity for the mindfulness buzzword and lean heavily on its use as a panacea or magic bullet solution for all that ails your psyche. Although mindfulness has varied and assorted interpretations, most would agree that it is a type of meditation that focuses on awareness and presence in the moment without interpretation or analysis. In other words, mindfulness is everything you’re not doing normally.  

There. Caught you not being mindful. You were just trying to judge your own level of mindfulness, weren’t you? And while you were analyzing your level of presence in the moment, the “Now” bus passed you by. It’s that insidious and tricky.  

In my younger years, I strived hard to attain enlightenment. I chanted and Om’d with the best of them. I twisted my body into impossible poses that still wreak havoc on my bones to this very day. I realize now that I may have been on the wrong track to self-realization all along. In my various flirtations with yoga, meditation, and Zen, I was always under the impression that I needed to empty my mind to achieve enlightenment. I must admit that I did a mighty fine job as my skull could easily now be a stunt double for the Grand Canyon. I had created so much empty space within, that my brain could now provide enough suction to power a dozen vacuum cleaners.  

Little did I realize that I was heading in the wrong direction. To me, being mindful meant to not go over my budget. To be mindful, was to look both ways before venturing out into traffic. It meant being sensible as opposed to acting in a frivolous manner.   

Just because, let’s take a sharp turn here and veer off in a completely different direction. Let’s discuss the ultimate example of mindfulness, who is present not only in this moment but every single moment of the entirety of both past and future. We’re talking about the greatest life coach of all time. God.  

Before we get much deeper into the subject, we need to navigate around a rather touchy subject. What is God’s preferred pronoun? I suppose that “they/them” would be appropriate, considering that God is likely to identify as a non-binary, and 3-spirited (at least) being. For the sake of historical convention, however, we’ll default to “he” for the purpose of this discussion.  

A quick perusal of God’s profile shows a confusingly complex persona. Scrolling through the ten commandments, we find right away, at the very top of the list, that he wants his believers to have no other gods but him. Might this be interpreted as a case of low self-esteem? Insecurity? Perhaps signs that point to uncontrolled jealousy, arrogance, and narcissism?  

And what’s with all the “thou shalt not” decrees? Let’s face it; no is so negative. Surely there must be more positive and affirmative ways to get the same message across. If God were to avail himself of any of hundreds of self-help books, he would know that calmly pointing out that the sinning activity is unacceptable is a much more politically correct way of modifying the inappropriate behaviour. An affirming hug would certainly seal the deal. Borrowing a few pointers from the Faber/Mazlich social manual, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, would have gone a long way to help God tend to his flock.  

Farther down the list of commandments is the one about God not allowing idols or unsanctioned images of himself. You can tell right away that he would have severe issues with the paparazzi press chasing him around. And forget about any chance of him ever appearing on American Idol. With all his esteem and low confidence issues, the only way he would agree to being on the show would be if he was decreed the sole judge and the only performer. Doesn’t make for exciting prime time entertainment, does it?  

For someone who is supposed to be all-powerful, omniscient, and omnipresent, God has sure allowed this planet to get messed up a bit. Maybe he has been too permissive when he should have been tight-fisted, or the other way around, but his mindfulness could have used more “here-ness” and less “there, there-ness”.   

Who knows? Perhaps God’s universal account was hacked and his home page is chock-a-block full of malware and malicious spyware. Maybe he has hung on to his old password for too long. My theory is that he handed out religious franchises to too many untested and inexperienced entrepreneurs, and his intent became diluted as a result. He should have known that with the likes of Buddha, Muhammad, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, McDonald’s, and Tim Horton, there’s no way they would be able to achieve harmony and accord without getting in each other’s way and causing strife.  

Nobody asked me, but it must be evident that God has some Godsplaining to do, but he hasn’t sent down any more written instructions since Moses deciphered those rocks in the Sinai desert. Dear God, turning water into wine may be well and good, but you have to be mindful that you don’t overdo it and turn the wine into vinegar. Walking on water is an amazing feat, but it doesn’t take long before someone modifies it into barefoot waterskiing and lobbies to make it an Olympic sport.  

Nevertheless, regardless of whether your mindfulness is full to the brim or running on empty, you can count on that great life coach in the sky to point you in the right direction. Just give him a bit of time to rework his commandments so they come across as more palatable to us average sinners.  

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