One of the primary problems we face as people who live in a highly technological, consumer society is that we tend towards automation. We fall into daily rituals that become weekly cycles that gradually turn into annual sequences, and as we submit to the routine, our mind power switches into the “off” position. We become less aware of who we are, shut down and stop seeking both purpose and meaning, and go through the motions of existence, no longer in control of our own individual destinies. Ironically, the impulse to merely exist, like a robot or zombie, is motivated by the desire to be in control, but it isn’t until we relinquish control and become mindful that we are able to truly have the mind power to shape the way our lives are going.
What is does it mean to be mindful? Being mindful has to do with cutting through all the static, all the idle or negative thoughts that constantly assault our inner life as we go through the motions and begin to become aware not only of the world around us from moment to moment, but who we are as individual persons within it. It isn’t merely employing the tactics of mind control in order to think more clearly in a rationalistic way or coming up with a perfect theory or working philosophy of life. That kind of mind control (as opposed to mind power) loses itself in abstraction, and is distant from the reality of our daily lives. Being truly mindful pushes past abstract ideas, but once it is reached through effort and training, imbues us with power.
What kind of techniques can help us to train our minds? Training your mind is just like training for the Olympics, or training to play the piano. There are a variety of methods to work towards developing mind power through mindfulness. The most traditional and popular are certain types of meditation practices, clearing the mind, breathing in a slow and measured way, and gradually becoming more aware not only of your own physicality, but of the real nature of everything that is around you, and treating all things with respect. Opening up your mind to the world around you and to your real personhood is a life-transforming practice that offers many health benefits, including physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. It can also imbue you with the power to shape your path through life.