Reconnecting our thoughts with our bodies
Siddhartha Gautama was a Nepalese prince, who was shielded by his father from suffering. One day, he ventured for the first time beyond his father's domain and was staggered to encounter sickness, old age and death.
The story of how the Buddha became 'awakened' is of course a legend. Yet, like many religious parables, its power lays not in its historicity but in what it says about us.
For even when we're confronted by terrible events in the media - as we have been during the last week - isn't it easy to act as though these things can never happen to us? I truly hope that when our time comes, all of us spend our final moments peacefully and painlessly surrounded by loved ones. And yet, even in this best-case scenario, the fact that life is so short should affect our choices today, but it rarely does.
Part of the reason for this disjunction is that our thinking mind is so disconnected from our feeling body. We all know intellectually that we're going to die, but it's difficult to feel the truth of this in such a way that encourages the appreciation of each passing moment. When emotions conflict with intellect, emotions always prevail.
Our brains tend to be constantly bored, jumping from topic to topic in an endless drive to stimulate our desires. The internet isn't helping. They say that thanks to Google, we live in an age when we never have to not know something. Want to know what the Osmond brothers look like today? Google them and find out.
Yet, there's a price for all this endless trivia at our fingertips. Channel-hopping through pools of meaningless data tends to make our thinking even more shallow and diffuse than it may be otherwise. The Buddhist term for our tendency to surf from thought to thought, is prapancha.
The solution, according to the young Siddhartha, is integration. Integration is alignment of your thoughts with your body. It is meaningful living, where one's actions are integrated with their values. It's not suppression, but immersion into the experience of living. The times demand this of us.
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