There’s a lingering stereotype about people who practiced meditation or some form of mindfulness. In the eyes of too many people, mindfulness practitioners are entering some sort of mystic or religious space. They believe that if you close your eyes or you recite an inaudible or silent mantra that you are necessarily praying or engaging in some sort of religious or spiritual activity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Mysticism is very different from meditation. Typical meditation, and I’m not talking about meditation derived from spiritual practices, I’m talking about basic meditation, is all about becoming aware of your body and your mind in the present moment.
Mysticism is about awareness that is beyond you. You’re reaching out to some sort of greater truth that can either extend back in the or forward into the future. These are two totally different things. People are comparing apples to oranges.
When you engage in mysticism, you engage in external truth that may have been written a long, long time ago or is actually timeless. Regardless of whether you approve of mysticism or not, I think we could all agree that this is a totally different animal from mindfulness or meditation.
When you’re being mindful, you don’t care about the past. You really don’t. This is why meditation is so awesome to a lot of people who are trying to overcome some sort of trauma.
Maybe your father wasn’t there when you were growing up. Perhaps you were abused by your mother. Possibly, your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend abused you or cheated on you or betrayed. Maybe people laughed at you in the past.
Whatever the case may be when you practice meditation, you let go of the past. You’re no longer going through your mental closet and unraveling very painful or traumatic memories only to put them back into the closet again, and then you repeat the process over and over. You take a break from that. You really do.
When you practice mindfulness, you are focused on one thing and one thing alone. You are focused on the present moment, nothing else.
The same applies to worries. If you are a worrier, meditation may be the solution you’re looking for because instead of obsessing and wasting tremendous emotional and mental resources thinking about stuff that has yet to happen, you focus on what is.
You realize that the air coming out of your nostrils is real right here, right now. You are aware of how you’re breathing right here, right now. Nothing else.
This is why if you are still on the fence about meditation or mindfulness, understand it has nothing to do with mysticism. You don’t have to become some sort of mystic. You don’t have to become some sort of Shaolin or Buddhist priest. You don’t have to do any of that. You just have to focus on who you are right here, right now.