I have been made aware that some see the trend toward a mindfulness practice as an attempt to hide from the ills of society. Of course any tool can be used inappropriately. A hammer is a wonderful tool, but not best used for cleaning windows.

If we see a person using a tool in misguided way, does that invalidate the tool, or the way it is being used? Stress reduction should not be seen as dissociation, but a more active and less biased movement through the world. Would you suggest that someone drive their vehicle without mindfulness?

I know that mindfulness practice, meditation practice, and stress reduction techniques have a profound effect on me and the way I move through the world. I am far less likely to have a hostile interaction. In our world today it is easy to run into someone with a chip on their shoulder, convinced that you somehow represent all that is wrong with the world.

I am far less likely to be reactive, and far more likely to regain my actual presence more quickly, behaving in a way that feels right to me. I feel like a calmer person is far less prone to do something inappropriate. It only takes a moment to do something you regret for the rest of your life.

This does not mean we have to be passive cattle led to the slaughter. Was Martin Luther King passive? Even in martial arts you are taught not to fight angry. Staying cool helps you to act from your own values. Do we really want to dance to the tune of the most reactive of us? If your knee is inflamed you do not add heat. You use ice to calm the inflammation.

For me, I can say that my lifelong commitment to understanding my own emotions has been invaluable. I feel much better about who I am in the world and am much more committed to making a positive difference. Lincoln said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. We are one family, both as Americans, and in a broader sense as human beings. Gated communities will not save us. Neither will stirring conflict in other nations. For me it is not a choice but a discovery. My way is the way of peace. Of mindfulness.

Drake PoweComment