When I first started practicing mindfulness, I saw internal words — aka verbal thoughts — as my opponents. Like most people, I thought the point was to not think. When verbal thoughts were present, I was obviously not. Start over. Try harder.

There's just one problem with this approach. It is normal for the mind to think in words.

Liberation through Intimacy

Liberation through Intimacy

Transcendence isn't an escape plan, but an engagement strategy: liberation through intimacy. Transcending the self and the world begins with deeply accepting the self and the world. It grows naturally out of countless direct experiences of life as it is being lived and an intimate familiarity with how its composition constantly fluctuates.

Don't You See the Music Here?

by Cloud Cult, from The Meaning of 8 and Unplug

There must be purpose here,
cuz most of us keep waking up

(Don't you think it's pretty here)

It's so unexpectedly predictable,
So sloppily intentional,
Does anyone know the punchline yet?

There must be rhythm here,
cuz all of us have a heartbeat

(Don't you see the music here?)

Inside our ribs we tick 
an average of 60 beats a minute


There must be forgiveness here
cuz most of us have our weaknesses

(Tell me what are your weaknesses)

I don't know myself and I'm afraid of you
I'm happiest on chemicals
The goings come and the comings go
Forgive me I'm just an animal

There must be healing here,
cuz everybody here has been damaged
And we'll wear it like a tattoo
Every scar is a smile
To hell with the going down

There must be afterlife here,
cuz we all pray for resurrection
You see the end comes quick as a bullet,
end comes quick as a bullet

About To Disappear

Hardy Hibiscus, July 20, 2013

Excerpt from Readers' Circle Essay, “Self Knowledge,” by David Whyte:

Self-knowledge is not fully possible for human beings. We do not reside in a body, a mind or a world where it is achievable or from the point of being interesting, even desirable. Half of what lies in the heart and mind is potentiality, resides in the darkness of the unspoken and unarticulated and has not yet come into being: this hidden unspoken half will supplant and subvert any present understandings we have about ourselves. Human beings are a frontier between what is known and what is not known. The act of turning any part of the unknown into the known is simply an invitation for an equal measure of the unknown to flow in and reestablish that frontier: to reassert both the exterior and interior horizon of an individual life; to make us what we arethat isa moving edge between what we know about ourselves and what we are about to become. What we are actually about to become or are afraid of becoming always trumps and rules over what we think we are already. 

The hope that a human being can achieve complete honesty and self-knowledge with regard to themselves is a fiction and a chimera, the jargon and goals of a corporate educational system brought to bear on the depths of an identity where the writ of organizing language cannot run. Self-knowledge includes the understanding that the self we want to know is about to disappear. 

What we can understand is the way we occupy this frontier between the known and the unknown, the way we hold the conversation of life, the sense of the way our body occupies that edge, but a detailed audit of the self is not possible and diminishes us in the attempt to establish it; we are made on a grander scale, half afraid of ourselves, half in love with the dance of immensities beyond any name we can give…

See also: Why Not Start Apprenticing Yourself Now? 

Stories We Tell

Sarah Polley in conversation with Elvis Mitchell on KCRW's The Treatment about her new documentary Stories We Tell (May 22, 2013):

There were so many moments, I think, where I wanted to back away from it for all of the sane reasons why someone would, and not the least of which was [while] many documentaries people make about their families or personal documentaries are fantastic and enlightening and insightful, so many of them are totally narcissistic and self-indulgent and I felt that this film was absolutely in danger of those same problems. 

I think, for me, what kept me going was I was so actually fascinated myself in like What is it about us as human beings that needs to tell stories? Why are we so desperate to have narrative? Why is it so impossible for us to live in the mess?

We have to create this kind of neat arc of storytelling around the events in our lives, otherwise it's just too much. It's just too bewildering.