The Mindfulness Blog

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The Circle Game

In the spirit of August and late Summer (here in the Northern Hemisphere), the taking-off point for all my postings this month will be the title of a song-- related, of course, to topics pertaining to mindfulness and meditation.

"The Circle Game" (Joni Mitchell) is a song about life in general, and more particularly, the passage of childhood. It's a tremendous song, and the lyrics are really quite special. But as much as I enjoy the song, I'm into a different kind of circle game-- meditation, and the end (mindfulness) that it allows me to recognize, if not regularly access.

Games speak to the child in all of us, and so does mindfulness. Having spent a lot of time recently with my 4-year-old grandson (Chase) and my 15-month-old granddaughter (Audrey), my definition of mindfulness has evolved from something that was initially rather intellectual, to something now much more real. For me, mindfulness is a state that is child-like, but not child-ish.

And the practice of meditation takes me right back to the idea of a  circle, because it is, quite literally, circular. Observe the mind as it thinks thoughts-- observe the body as it feels emotion-- observe the mind/body as it experiences mood. Be curious about the thought/emotion/mood then watch as it passes, without attaching a particular cause, or significance, or outcome. Return attention to our chosen anchor and begin again. And again. And again.

Meditation is the ultimate circle game, in a world that seems to have become increasingly linear. Cyclical experience doesn't afford us the same kind of measurable information that linear experience does, and so, it has grown out of favor throughout most of the "first world". It's akin to experiencing life exclusively through the lens of one's left brain, without much-- if any-- regard for one's right brain.

Maybe that's why many in the legal profession are so skeptical about mindfulness and meditation? Maybe that's why people who know so much about so many things, know so little about mindfulness or the benefits of meditation? Maybe that's why our law schools are increasingly offering mindfulness and meditation as part of their curricula? Maybe the left brain has rediscovered the right brain-- stranger things have happened!

As it turns out, for a lot of us, the circle game is not a game at all-- it's a bona fide component of well-being, which is an important piece of the competency puzzle. We can't be competent counselors or advisors, if we're not well-- it's really just as simple as that.

We're all captive on the carousel of time. For goodness sake, let's make the most of it!


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