On Sunday we watched “Notes on a Scandal” on DVD. It left me quite overwhelmed with thoughts about life, happiness and general satisfaction. Cate Blanchett‘s character said something which really got to me:
“Mind the gap: it’s the distance between life as you dream it and life as it is”
Owtch. Her character had all you might want – a good looking, supportive and intelligent husband, a loving family, a worthy career, the best looks. She enjoyed all of those things, and they brought happy interludes, but her life as a continuum didn’t make her happy, and a cut-off occurred in the middle of those two extremes. My meditation course with Alistair is entirely about plugging the cognitive dissonance which happens in this divide.
In him I see someone full of the joy of exploration – of the world around him sure, but at the centre an exploration of the mind, and of the unlimited possibilities which a skilful use of it can bring. Last night he too said something which hit me like a hammer:
“We believe what we think and ignore what we feel”
And only two novice attempts at practicing the four fields of mindfulness (body, perception, feelings, thoughts) brought into sharp relief the processes of my own disconnection. It was almost a relief to find a truth which resonated with the sociologist in me – the elements bringing it about are different each time. It all may feel the same but it isn’t – there are constantly changing processes in play and meditation can bring about a skilful enough mind to be able to make better decisions relating to them, in turn leading to happier outcomes. I’d thought that my thoughts were always trying to take me away from my feelings – far from it. I’d never even taken a look at what the general cacophany of thoughts were – also not what I’d expected. This was in a sense even more of a relief, feeling that my biggest issues in delivering a happy life were not centred around ‘issues’, just the absence of a skilful mind; that mind not just being able to navigate these four fields and undoing this lack of ability in dealing with life as it comes, but also being open to curiosity and exploration too.