Monday, January 8, 2007

Mindfulness, politics and doing, generally

by Sean M. Madden
Mindful Living Guide
January 8, 2007

I sit here upon my writing-blogging throne — a fitball which could use re-inflating — recognizing that while I have had a bit of success with the political writing aspect of my life, it is time for me to return to my more mindful aspect.

This seems to denote a dualism, for these are two aspects of my day-to-day being (without, herein, getting into a discussion of being versus non-being or non-becoming). But I think this apparent dualism is analogous to the rotation of the seasons, or the light and dark of day and night, a cycle which is not to be ignored or repressed, but one that is to be consciously, mindfully, acknowledged.

We must recognize that we, too, ebb and flow. We exist within the world of nature, where things are undergoing constant change.

I was aware of this cyclical tension throughout the past couple days during which I was incubating, writing and following-up on the piece I wrote for, and which was subsequently headlined by Information Clearing House, GNN and other news sites and blogs. Along with the immediate worldwide exposure which this entails, I have a certain obligation to respond to the many caring and well-thought-out emails and comments that continue to come.

This, of course, takes time and energy, and I am happy to expend both for those who take an interest in my writings and ideas. This is, after all, a major reason why one writes, to share ideas with friends old and new. However, it means that a simple piece which I wrote in an afternoon and evening continues to have a sort of life of its own well thereafter. And, because I do not return to simply observing my breath as often as I know is best, I am at risk of entering into the realm of neurotic doing. In short, this means I become susceptible to identifying with my work, my writing and the follow-up work to my writing, all of which I truly enjoy. But, if these activities are not monitored with mindfulness, or an awareness of the present moment, they can swiftly morph into habitual, mindless goings-on.

Perched upon my exercise-ball office chair, I have to make continual adjustments — back and forth and side to side — to keep my spine well-aligned, strong and vibrant. So, too, with life.

As life does not occur within a vacuum, our challenge is to learn to engage with its constant flux while keeping our mindfulness, our peace of mind, intact.

We will inevitably drift off from our shortest-distance-between-two-imaginary-points course, as does even the best-skippered sailing craft. But like the best of skippers, we shall realize that, while our course will undoubtedly be influenced by the turbulent seas from below and the battering winds from above, our corrective tacks, if we remain alert, shall be minor. To the casual observer, we may, indeed, appear to have traversed an equally imaginary straight line in our daily doings. We shall know, however, that we were continually making small adjustments to keep ourselves well-aligned, strong and vibrant.

This is the challenge of a lifetime, if we are to live that life fully while, mindfully, staying on course.

And, to the extent that we remain mindful while moving from one aspect of our selves, or one of our day-to-day roles, to another we shall come to experience that apparent dualism as integrated wholeness and well-being. The contradiction exists solely within the realm of language and the distinctions which our thinking aspect is prone to make. This propensity to distinguish is useful for engaging with the world, so long as we recognize its limitations.

Like the change of seasons, our lives are a continual moment-to-moment flow. For us to divide the year into four tells us far more about our distinguishing minds than about the wholeness of the natural world. All is undergoing constant transformation, nothing stands still for us to earmark, with finality, as this or that.

Let us awaken to the fluid wholeness of the world and within.

— — —
Sean M. Madden is a UK-based American who guides himself and others in mindful living, meditation and writing. He blogs at Mindful Living Guide and, and can be reached via email at © copyright 2007 by Sean M. Madden


  1. Sitting on an exercise ball so your spine has to constantly adjust is: BRILLIANT!

  2. Interesting article Sean, but I can't get the vision of a "blogging throne" out of my mind.