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 something usually needs to be different, changed, or fixed before we can be happy and content.
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 you label "pleasant," and push away what you label "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, including this one.
So, take it from the Jedi Masters, and learn to observe your compulsive mind and its non-stop activity. As we are fond of saying:
"You are not your thoughts, and you don't have to go everywhere they tell you to."
The secret to everything.
There's a difference between what happens to us, and the stories our minds tell about what happens to us.
The things we deal with every day - from the inability to stop bad habits, to stress, anxiety, and self-confidence issues, to problems with sleep, focus, and productivity - can be traced back to this difference.
It's the root cause of all our struggles.
The good news is, if you learn to become aware of this difference and stop getting caught up in the stories constantly running through your head, life can improve dramatically.
The better new is, we've been teaching people how to do exactly that for almost 20 years now. Tens of thousands of people around the world, and from every walk of life.
Click here to read about "An owner's guide to the mind."