How mindfulness helps me cope with Clinton and Trump
There's a scene in the movie, Annie Hall, in which a couple are making out. The guy suddenly pulls away saying, "I can't concentrate. The Warren Commission said the shots..." The woman interrupts, "Why are you using the Kennedy assassination to avoid making love to me?"
Like that man, I've been obsessed. America is voting. It's been the most vitriolic, ugliest campaign of my lifetime. As an American, it's also been the first one in which I've had an opportunity to vote for a woman. This feels momentous to me but both candidates are historically unpopular. Really nasty feelings are running high.
The election's on a knife edge and it's difficult to still my mind. People may ask: "What good is mindfulness in the real world? Isn't it just another form of navel gazing?" Those are valid questions. Over the years I've taught many people how to quiet their minds. I have an arsenal of tools and techniques that can silence the internal critic or bring respite from unwanted obsessive thoughts. These tools can be useful in certain contexts. For beginning meditators, it's sometimes helpful to take a holiday from one's worries.
Yet, it's probably more useful in many cases to be mindful of one's mental agitation. The fact is that if mindfulness has a place in the western world - outside of monasteries - it must exist harmoniously among the hustle and bustle. For me, the real question should be "What good is mindfulness if we don't make it relevant to the real world?"
There's a concept in hypnosis called 'utilisation'. Basically, it means that whatever happens during a session should be utilised towards achieving the client's therapeutic outcome. If a phone rings unexpectedly, I may incorporate it by suggesting, "Your unconscious is calling to remind you to consider your potential." Utilisation also influences my approach to mindfulness. Whatever may be disturbing your life, use it in your mindfulness practice. I have a clip on YouTube which explains how to do that. Traditional 'positive thinking' can deny the power of so-called negative thoughts; mindfulness embraces and transforms them. I'd vote for that.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.facebook.com/ Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl