Last updated May, 2020.
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We made a short post on Facebook that received a lot of attention, and we thought it was worth sharing here.
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.
Why do we struggle?
If you're like the rest of us, you spend a lot of time trying to “fix” everything that’s wrong in your life. But, you tend to ignore your mind, which is more often than not the root cause of those problems you're trying to fix.
We experience every single moment of life with our minds. And, it's our minds that create the majority of our struggles and suffering. Reality is, no matter where you go or what you do, you can’t escape your mind.
The good news is, you don't have to!
You only need to understand how your mind works, and learn to stop getting lost in the non-stop thoughts running through your head. We wrote “Your inner narrative” to help you do exactly that, and you can read more about it here (includes a free preview).