Louis CK explains mindfulness in a sincere and truly relatable way, without ever saying the word mindful.
Progression in insight meditation, or Vipassana meditation, is a difficult thing to characterize in the context of your practice. When you exercise consistently, you begin to notice changes in your body and energy levels – loss of fat, increased muscle tone and mass, increased endurance; however, meditation progression is not linear – even with dedicated practice – and little or no evidence of progress can make the experience frustrating enough to quit.
At its root, mindfulness or Sati, in the Pali (language of early Buddhism) definition, means ‘to remember’, ‘to recollect’. This definition is misleading if understood at face value, since memories are vulnerable to distortion, and this is recognized both within and without Buddhist context.
The running monologue inside our heads has a way of putting up a dividing wall between us and our happiness. We can relate to the severity of this issue in extreme cases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression. Our stream of consciousness – at its most malicious – can commandeer our entire view of ourselves and dim our view on the outside world. This mind-gone-wild affliction touches us all, to differing degrees.
‘I think, therefore I am’, was René Descartes’ line from Discourse on the Method.¹ Our awareness of self is our defining characteristic. Furthermore, our ability as human beings to reflect upon, and investigate our thoughts – and the neural basis of these thoughts – is veritably mind-blowing. However, when self-awareness turns into incessant mind-chatter, we begin to question its value and seek ways to quiet the noise.