A personal viewpoint by Scott Johnson


Why do we practice contemplative traditions such as yoga & meditation? Some say to become more relaxed, some say for greater wellbeing, others say for health. What if we said that nurturing, really nurturing, these practices would allow us to reframe our response to all external stimuli, creating the possibility of engaging with each of life’s moments in a conscious, compassionate and open way.

When I look at the world at any point in time I am having a sensory experience. I am using my five external senses (sight, sound, touch taste and smell) to bring in the external world so I can then measure it. That measure is made through my mind. My mind then, pretty much immediately, relates the experience to one of a similar nature that I’ve had before. It then offers a response with a feeling/emotion that is as close to that object I am perceiving. This process is going on unconsciously all the time every moment of every day since I was born.

When I was a very young child my response to the world was instinctive meaning I had no words, language or recognition of objects with which to name anything. I was responding to life as it was presented. With the introduction of human relationships connected to my parents and family my world began to be shaped by their responses to these instinctive demands. How those demands were shaped by those relationships then set in motion how my viewpoint began to be formed. As I grew into my childhood my conscious and unconscious reactions were nurtured by all the experiences of my life, both real and made up (for example television and video games)

As an adult I am shaped by this past. I grew up with an alcoholic parent and I had difficulty knowing which type of person I was relating to. The one shouting at me for no reason because they were drunk or the one who loved me unconditionally because they weren’t. They were a variety of people all in one body and I had trouble establishing loving connections with them. This is in no way blaming them for their condition and I have now a deep relationship with them. They are someone who I respect and look up to greatly as a beacon to overcoming addiction but often I can base my relationships and life situations as a response to this early bonding set when I was young.

I see the world as a response to these life experiences. My relationships with people and the world can still be defined by these deep and unconscious patterns. So, in my life, the feedback I receive is as a response to this viewpoint I have. The viewpoint I have is unconsciously nurtured. This can continue, my life defined by how I see the world and it feeding back experiences that I call good or bad.

But how can I change this outlook on my life?

Even just realising that I see the world in this way is the waking up to being able to shift this perspective. Stopping and noticing that I am viewing the world unconsciously wakes me up to these patterns. When I begin to see this in myself I am beginning to notice how I truly relate. When I notice how I truly relate I meet that viewpoint rather than react to it. This is the beginning of sensing how I am seeing the world and adopting a more conscious, compassionate and mindful outlook.

Yoga and mindfulness practices allow me to purposely become involved in my viewpoint. I am able to nurture sensations and responses through actual engagement with them by pausing when I would normally react. I am noticing how I am responding to myself. I am then able to have a more direct connection with the thoughts and feelings that relate to my upbringing. Rather than be led by them I am getting to intimately know them and learn not to be held by them.  Mindfulness practices allow me to pause where I would react, to stop where I would run, to become still when I would become angry. I am nurturing love for myself so that I can then begin to love the world. 

Contemplation affords me the possibility to see myself as valuable, vibrant and alive. As a fully engaged and embodied individual relating with other fully engaged and embodied individuals living on a planet of fully engaged and embodied individuals.

For me this is the TRUE value of Mindfulness. To change the way i see the world…

(Picture kindly donated by Paul Sanders)


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