Category: Series (Books): Chasing Unicorns

Serial posts of my book.

Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 7, On the Path of Unicorns, Part 7

Tap cover, to read.

This is the final installation of a 27-part series, featuring my book, Chasing Unicorns. Hooray, it’s finally over! To read the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. To read the entire book at once, tap the book cover. Thanks for reading!

RECAP: Yesterday you learned that the greatest benefit from mindfulness is insight. Insights are unique ideas, thoughts, revelations, inspirations, and cogitations, that often manifest straight out of the blue. Putting insights into practice leads to wisdom. This is the path of mystics, that leads to enlightenment. And it’s the path toward the greatest happiness possible.

On the Path of Unicorns, Part 7

Other Benefits of Mindfulness

I suppose I should also mention some of the other benefits of mindfulness, just for the record. But keep in mind, they don’t hold a candle to insight. Insight is the most fundamental and powerful spinoff from the workings of our minds. Everything else is just gravy, or frosting on the cake. Which, by the way, should never be eaten together. Gravy and frosting don’t mix well.

Mindfulness has been touted as a magic bullet for a number of ills. It’s like a Swiss Army knife, or a Jack-of-all trades. For example, psychiatrists have used it to treat depression, stress, and anxiety.

Research suggests that mindfulness boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, and lowers the risk of developing dementia.

A mindful mind is less prone to feel desperate in dire situations. Mindfulness can help you sleep better, and prevent sleep deprivation. And if it really does boost your immune system, then it’s good for your health. It’s also touted to reduce blood pressure.

And I’m sure if you’re a golfer, mindfulness can help rid you of the yips, so you can sink that putt. If you’re a poker player, mindfulness can help you detect and stop your own tells, while noticing the tells of others. I’ll go all in, and assert it’s possible to get rich that way. But I’ve never tried it, so don’t quote me.

Mindfulness has also been used to effectively treat substance abuse. And in prisons, schools, and other institutions, mindfulness has been used in programs that help develop empathy. Thus, a mindful person is more likely to become a trustworthy person, since having empathy is a powerful way to win the trust of others.

The Fount of Life

Mindfulness observes and keeps tabs on the Source of all things. The mind. Everything comes from Mind. Mind is the All. It is the raw material of the universe. It contains more within it than you’ll ever find anywhere else, including the average house of a hoarder.

The mind is a tireless force. It never quits. It’s like every employer’s dream. It’s always at work, 24/7.

The mind is the very Source and fount of life. That’s because life is change, and the mind is constantly changing, thus creating new life. Just look at your own mind and you’ll be impressed, and possibly aggravated, with how it changes all the time. Your mind is always busy, constructing new thoughts, new concepts, and new perceptions.

This is why it’s impossible to stop your mind from thinking, while meditating. Your mind is life. It’s no more possible to stop your mind from thinking, than it is to stop life itself. Or at least, the eternal kind of life.

And in my opinion, that’s a good thing. I like life.

When we observe our own minds we are observing all the new constructs that it’s constantly inventing. Those new constructs tend to disappear when we apply a strong enough focus on them. But then they are immediately replaced by newer constructs. You can’t stop the mind from constructing. Not even the most powerful meditation can stop this.

Now I’ll admit that it’s possible to achieve a sense that the mind has gone blank, when you apply a strong dose of mindfulness to it. But then, how do you know your mind has actually gone blank? You can only know because your tricky, wriggly mind, has squirmed out of your control and constructed the concept of blankness, for you to perceive.

And then, as you congratulate yourself for all this blankness, your ever-inventive mind elevates your self-image to that of a champion meditator. Thus, more constructs. So you see, you can’t stop your mind from constructing new things.

The best you can do is to watch your mind as it constantly goes about its business. Watch those constructs rise, and then watch them get demolished, over and over, under the scrutiny of your mind’s eye. But that’s good enough, because the very act of watching your mind somehow stimulates it, so that it begins to produce more and more unique insights. Unicorns are born, for your enjoyment and practical use.

Watching your mind takes you to the Source of life. This Source is magical, and it loves being watched. And it will richly reward you for all of the attention you pay to it. You will receive many unique insights, and an opportunity to develop wisdom and enlightenment, simply by putting the insights into action.

And this will make you truly, genuinely, and increasingly happy.


Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 7, On the Path of Unicorns, Part 6

Tap cover, to read.

This is the latest installation of a 27-part series, featuring my book, Chasing Unicorns. To read the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next post in this series, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. To read the entire book at once, tap the book cover. Thanks for reading!

RECAP: Yesterday we reviewed a few of the meditation instructions commonly taught by gurus. For instance, we learned that doing one thing at a time can help mindfulness. Also, repeating over and over in your mind what you’re doing in the moment, can also help you to be mindful. Watching your breath is a good way to observe your mind with dispassion. And watching your passions as they arise, can also be beneficial. But speaking of benefits, in this chapter we’ll be learning the main benefit of mindfulness.

On the Path of Unicorns, Part 6

The Main Benefit of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has many benefits, but the main benefit is insight. That’s my very strong and steadfast opinion, which I’m willing to swear on the twisty, pointy horn of any unicorn. And that’s because insight is where the unicorns are at.

Also, to develop the most insight, you must be mindful of everything, and not just your breath. This is why I consider informal mindfulness to be superior to formal. In fact, I think it’s essential, whereas formal mindfulness is optional. So don’t fret it. You never have to practice formal mindfulness, if you don’t want to.

But I do. I generally practice the formal stuff for about 15 minutes per day. Which is far less than most monks and meditation masters recommend, but I think it’s enough. Maybe more than enough.

I practice while lying in bed, because I’m lazy. So it’s actually beditation. But I’ve been known to skip days, and I’ve been known to be so tired, that I’ve slept straight through it, without getting in more than a few seconds of meditation.

I find that formal mindfulness helps me to build my concentration for the task of informal mindfulness. With formal mindfulness I can concentrate very hard on watching my mind, without anything going awry.

I liken it to a baseball player who stands in the on-deck circle swinging a weighted bat. When it’s his turn at the plate, his muscles are toned and ready for the lighter bat he now wields, allowing him to swing it with greater ease.

But no ballplayer takes a weighted bat with him to the plate, to swing at real pitches. So it is with informal mindfulness. You’re engaging in the real, everyday activities of this world, unlike with formal mindfulness. And to focus on these activities, you have to apply your mindfulness with a lighter touch.

This gives you an opportunity to be mindful of a wide variety of things, and not just your breath, or how your butt feels from perching on a zafu for uncomfortable lengths of time.

Also, informal mindfulness is done all the time. It never ends. Meanwhile, most people, other than monks and gurus, have little or no time for formal mindfulness. So the sheer amount of informal mindfulness we can engage in, makes it most likely to produce the most benefits from mindfulness.

There are many benefits that derive from a long-term practice of mindfulness. Why hell, it’s like Christmas. But as I asserted above, I think the best present you can ever unwrap is the gift of insight.

Insight is an aptly yclept term. Because it reflects exactly what you’re doing when you’re being mindful. You’re turning your sights in, upon your mind. And as you turn your sights in, voila! You get insight!

I don’t know quite why it works or how it works. It’s FM. Fucking Magic. I have my theories. Numerous theories, in fact. But I’m not sure if any of them are valid. I just know that every-minute, informal mindfulness has a way of producing very profound insights.

Insights are unique ideas, thoughts, revelations, inspirations, and cogitations, that often manifest straight out of the blue. You’ll be minding your own business, with your mindfulness turned on, say, halfway, while working, playing, or doing whatever. And then suddenly, something profound will occur to you.

A light bulb will switch on inside your head. An intriguing idea or thought will stop you in mid-track. A eureka moment, an epiphany, a sudden enlightenment, will stun you as powerfully as a 50,000 volt taser.

These insights cannot be predicted, forced, or prevented. They just occur whenever they decide to occur. So you can’t say, “Abracadabra, may I be stricken with a profound insight, right at this very moment!” Well, I guess you CAN say that, but it probably won’t work, unless you get lucky.

No, insights just happen. They’re like unicorns, suddenly appearing out of nowhere, dashing out of the deep forest of your mind, and prancing around, bedazzling you with their unique splendor.

Each insight presents an opportunity. At the very least, they give you something unique to contemplate. And since happiness comes from uniqueness, you’re given some happy thoughts to consider.

But often, they also allow for action. For instance, if you get the unique idea for a home improvement, you can then grab your hammer and saw and start working at it. Or a unique solution may occur to you, for solving a problem. Putting the solution to action will let you know how helpful the insight is.

And to be clear, not all insights are helpful. Some are just fanciful will-o’-the-wisps of no practical value. And sometimes you have to put them into action to figure that out. But many are surprisingly helpful.

Helpful or not, you must put an insight into action in order to determine its value. And this is how you develop wisdom. Wisdom comes from experience. The wisest practitioners of meditation are those who’ve ridden a lot of unicorns.

Thus, mindfulness leads to insight, and insight leads to wisdom. This is the path of mystics, that leads to enlightenment. And it’s the path toward the greatest happiness possible. Because it’s the most effective way to catch unicorns, and have unique experiences.

Now, you may want to point out to me that insight happens to everyone, and not just to those who practice mindfulness. It’s true, and I agree. Everybody gets a profound insight, now and then. And I think that’s because everybody practices mindfulness to at least a rudimentary, subconscious, and unintentional degree. I believe mindfulness is a natural function of our minds.

But when you make it a point to be mindful, you’ll become much more mindful than the average person. And then insights will occur to you much more often.

Look at mindfulness the same as your own scrawny muscles. If you start working out, those muscles will grow. And before you know it, you’ll no longer struggle with lifting things like lint and feathers. In fact, you’ll be able to handle much larger loads, such as bricks, boulders, and bags of Portland cement.

In the same way, if you persistently practice informal, every-minute mindfulness, your mind will begin to produce more and more insights. You’ll become like a muscle man on the beach, with a much stronger mind than the average person. And you’ll have more insights, more wisdom, more enlightenment, and more happiness, than you’ve ever possessed before.

[There are other benefits of mindfulness that merit some mention, that haven’t been mentioned yet. So tomorrow I’ll just go ahead and mention them. And it’s also worth mentioning that tomorrow the torture ends, when I finally wrap this book up. Thank you? Don’t mention it.]


Chasing Unicorns: Chapter 7, On the Path of Unicorns, Part 5

Tap cover, to read.

This is the latest installation of a 27-part series, featuring my book, Chasing Unicorns. To read the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next post in this series, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. To read the entire book at once, tap the book cover. Thanks for reading!

RECAP: Yesterday, we mindfully covered the subject of informal mindfulness. We learned that we can be mindful while going about routine, everyday tasks. But for the more important, critical tasks that require a high degree of concentration, we have to be less mindful in order to get the job done. When you practice informal mindfulness, you’ll often catch yourself going a long time, forgetting to be mindful. When this happens, returning to mindfulness is important, as it builds a self-discipline and devotion to the practice that eventually makes the practice a habit you can’t quit.

On the Path of Unicorns, Part 5

Meditation Instructions

Gurus, meditation masters, and other experts often provide instructions for how to be mindful. These instructions can be useful, but always take them with a grain of salt. Ultimately, you must find your own way. It’s up to you to determine the best way to be mindful.

A common instruction is to only do one thing at a time. Well in the real world, that’s easier said than done. Life places many demands upon us, and sometimes we can’t avoid engaging in more than one thing at a time.

Suppose you’re frying a hamburger when the phone rings. And it’s an important call. Then, while you’re jabbering on the phone while flipping your burger, your kid walks through the front door with a stray dog she wants to keep. So now you have to scowl, while pointing to the door, while addressing an important question raised by the important person on the phone, while your hamburger burns on the stove.

Good luck being mindful during all that.

I like this instruction though, and I do try to limit myself to one thing at a time, whenever possible. This has a calming effect on my temperamental demeanor. It also forces me to simplify my life. And it makes mindfulness easier. But it isn’t always possible, or advisable. One must be flexible about rules and instructions, if one is to survive in this complicated world.

Another common instruction is to repeat over and over in your mind, what you’re doing in any given moment. For instance, if you’re walking, repeat to yourself, “walking, walking, walking.” If you’re chewing food, repeat to yourself, “chewing, chewing, chewing.” And so forth.

Be warned that if you do this with too much focus, you’re likely to trip over your own shoes, or choke to death. You must adjust your mindfulness to the situation.

I find this instruction useful at times, when my mind is scattered and I’m having a very hard time being mindful. But I don’t employ it often. Someone new to mindfulness might benefit from using it more frequently, though.

Another very common instruction is to watch your breath. That’s because we always have breath while we are, uh, still breathing. So it’s always there to watch. And it’s neutral. There’s no politically correct way to breathe or not breathe. Therefore, watching one’s breath is not likely to excite one’s passions.

It’s a good instruction, in my view. But be careful about taking it too far. Watching one’s breath is not the be-all and end-all to mindfulness.

And besides, what’s wrong with exciting one’s passions? Nothing at all. If you do this mindfully, you may gain some insights into just why your passions have become excited. And this will help you to understand a little more about yourself.

So be mindful of other things also, besides your breath. Be mindful when a stone fox or handsome hunk walks past you. Admire the view, and watch how it affects your impulses. Be mindful when handed a large sum of money, so you can be aware of all the avarice that consumes your heart like fire.

And be mindful while eating something delicious, like a chocolate bar. Don’t waste all that good taste by following your breath. No, follow the flavor, as it sends your mouth to heaven and engorges your stomach.

[I wrote that last paragraph while feeling hungry, so maybe it’s time for a snack break. Don’t forget to brush your teeth, and be sure to show up tomorrow, where you’ll learn the main benefit of mindfulness.]


Marie Lamba, author

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