Glass of water

Forget the soul and the quantum physicists – let’s be ordinary

In All articles, Making sense of mindfulness by Norman Lamont

Glass of waterI was going to write a diatribe about a couple of articles in HR Network magazine, one about how spirituality can help you build a successful and profitable business (really, that’s the title), and one about trusting your unconscious mind, which, unusually for a business magazine, informs us,  with no room for debate, that we have four minds – the conscious mind, the unconscious mind, the higher self (or soul) and the universal mind.

I wasn’t sure exactly why I was so incensed by these articles, beyond the stream of feelgood clichés they trotted out. Everyone supports the author, from Carl Jung to the inevitable quantum physicists to Napoleon Hill (whose Think and Grow Rich from the 1930s ‘explains the way everyone can manifest that which their heart desires’. Let’s hope the Daesh don’t read it.) There’s no rationale or evidence offered for any of this other than that Paul McKenna mentored the author. And if you find yourself disagreeing, well “take it as a sign that your unconscious mind is awakening to its own unlimited power and that feels so good – doesn’t it?” Well, no.

So this is everything I want mindfulness to get away from. Or rather, if people want to suck this stuff up, they’re welcome to it but I’m writing for those people who don’t believe in this patchwork quilt of nicey-nicey.

Later, I realised why I was so nauseated when I read this article from Eddy Street of the Western Chan Fellowship, commenting on an evocative photo he’d taken. He says:

Doing the ordinary and being ordinary is something that we can struggle against, for we all have ways of avoiding our ordinariness. It is as if the acceptance of our ordinariness and the ordinary process of our living represent giving up or in some way, failure. We tend to include the ordinary qualities of ourselves amongst those things we class as not worthwhile. We want to put these things behind us. We try to create situations in which we can feel special and in which our experience is somehow extraordinary, as if it is stimulation and attention that will give us life. In fact, our living is the very stuff of our ordinariness. How we deal with our problems and worries in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way is a part of our life. Indeed, it is our life and it is in the process of living our life in an open, aware and mindful manner that brings its own unique extraordinary quality.

Eddy’s article and photo

I don’t need to bring souls and universal minds into the picture to taste this glass of water, nor do I need to know that Carl Jung, quantum physicists and Napoleon Hill are all describing the same thing (they’re not). Can I do what I have to do simply, directly, without distraction and kindly, without visiting my internal conflicts on someone else? That’s good enough. More than good enough.