Mindfulness (5): Is ‘a bit’ enough?
Many things are ‘a bit tricky’, my two year old son has started saying he’s ‘a bit hungry’, and you may be ‘a bit curious’ about where this is going.
Ed Haliwell, who spoke at the RSA Mindfulness event in 2010, has just written an interesting piece asking whether the expression ‘a bit of mindfulness’ is problematic. He is concerned that speaking in this way conveys that mindfulness is something discrete that can be tacked on to existing lifestyles and practices, rather than, as it perhaps should be, something that permeates one’s life in a more holistic or systemic way.
I share his concern for language forms. In Sanskrit and Pali they speak about ‘Namarupa‘ which essentially means that things take the form(rupa) of their names(nama). I first heard this from an Ayurvedic practitioner who expressed concern for the company Aveda because while veda means knowledge, ‘a‘ typically expresses a form of negation. In other words, the company name appears to mean ‘without knowledge’…she liked their products but feared that sooner or later their ‘namarupa’ would catch up with them.
When it comes to Mindfulness, for me the biggest challenge, unpacked in detail in Ed’s book, The Mindful Manifesto, is to appreciate the idea that mindfulness invites a form of being as much as being another thing to do. I have written about this distinction, between Doing and Being , before, and I feel that ‘a bit of mindfulness’ does make it sound like something that one does…another thing to be squeezed into our bloated schedules, rather than a constructive form of inaction that problematises the madness of constantly trying to do something.
Or maybe that’s a bit strong?