This article was last updated May 4th, 2018.
note: we link to our free guide to mindfulness and meditation at the bottom of the page (no email required).
We made a short post on Facebook that received a lot of attention, and we thought it was worth sharing here ("Like" us on Facebook).
In good-humored fashion, today has become known as Star Wars day, with people telling one another "May the Fourth be with you."
Staying with this theme, have you considered "the Force" is a symbolic representation of mindfulness?
Yoda is practically a meditation master, urging present moment awareness in lines like this:
"This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away...to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things."
In addition to living in the now, Yoda mentions craving. When you meditate, you see first-hand that we have an insatiable craving for things to be different than they are. Our minds habitually react with desire for what we like or want, and aversion towards what we dislike or don't want. And, the present moment becomes a stepping stone because it's never good enough: something usually needs to be different, changed, or fixed in order for us to be happy and content (according to our minds).
Through meditation, you also learn to observe everything associated with craving, including the thoughts, emotions, and urges that arise in consciousness. You see it all for what it is - temporary phenomena, dependent on causes and conditions. It comes into being, exists, and ceases, and you don't have to cling to any of it. You don't have to continuously grasp after what the mind labels "pleasant," and push away what the mind labels "unpleasant."
You don't have to indulge any of it, or follow it down a path that results in conditioned behavior.
Yoda isn't the only character preaching mindfulness. In Episode 1, Qui-Gon Jinn tells Obi-Wan Kenobi:
"Don't center on your anxiety...keep your concentration here and now where it belongs."
Training the mind, and the consequences of letting your thoughts, emotions, and urges rule you, underlies everything in the Star Wars universe - from the first time we meet Luke, to Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader (yes, I start with Episode 4 and end with Episode 3!).
One of Yoda's most famous lines (see the video at the top of this post), maps out the process from thoughts to suffering. This is something we discuss in multiple articles on this blog (index here).
So, take it from the Jedi Masters, and learn to observe your compulsive mind and its non-stop activity. As we're fond of saying:
"You are not your thoughts, and you don't have to let them push and pull you through your day."
And, as we're also fond of saying:
"There's what's happening, and there are the stories your mind tells you about what's happening - the two rarely match."
When you learn to see this directly and consistently, you are able to bring an end to much of your suffering.
Address the root cause.
Your struggles and suffering - whether it's stress, feelings of anxiety or depression, low self-confidence, extreme emotions...or anything else - are caused by the difference between the way things are and the way the mind thinks they should be.
Does it make sense to continue trying to control everything "out there" to conform to the mind's expectations? Or, is a more skillful use of your time and energy changing the way you deal with the thoughts and stories the mind constantly churns out?
If you believe it's the second option, continue reading...