When I told my husband I wanted to write a blog this morning called ‘Why Boris needs Mindful Magic in his life’, we almost ended up in a full blown argument. Out of fear. Fear that I would upset people. Fear that Brexit is a really contentious and emotive issue so it’s best to stay out of the discourse. Fear that I would alienate people that like Mindful Magic, but have political stance different to my own.
So, here we are. I’ve listened to his advice and chosen to go ahead anyway. Awks.
Because, I hope in reading this, that anyone that finds the slightly altered heading offensive or even sensationalist, will take the chance to read a little bit further and see that, yes the premise is a little tongue in cheek, but (absolutely 100% from my point of view) really bloody important.
Four ways that politicians might benefit from Mindful Magic:
1. By pausing
How often do you look at that House of Commons and wonder how quickly their minds must be working? How petty and superficial the arguments get as they tit-for-tat and distort each others’ points. We can probably think of examples in our own lives when we get caught up in the heat of the moment and become antagonistic; where discourse becomes heated and reactive. That isn’t healthy debate. That’s arguing. That isn’t evaluating all the points and deciding on the best course of action. That’s letting adrenaline make the decisions, as you become caught up in a fear/fight/flight frenzy.
Mindful Magic teaches us how to have greater meta-cognitive awareness, and become more thoughtful and paced in our thinking through focus and grounding tools. You might argue that decisions need to be made quickly and decisively by politicians, but on reflection, I bet we can all think of recent situations where impulsive decisions haven’t worked out all too well.
2. Accepting and appreciating ourselves for who we really are.
Ego: our idea or opinion about ourselves and our positions, especially our perceived importance and ability. It often determines our everyday decisions. We live through our ‘self’; our ‘me’ lens. We are completely and utterly driven by our egos. In fact, one wise philosopher said we can get lost in it (Dass). It is the part of us that is obsessed with success and achievement and other people’s approval, recognition and praise.
Think of a situation when you’ve played a role that doesn’t reflect your true self. Perhaps you wanted to please somebody or not cause offence so you acted in a different way or hid your feelings. As children, we might remember feeling a need to please everyone. Maybe we got excited by a positive comment in our school book, or a hug from our parents when we won a race. It’s completely normal, but it’s not everything. If we build our entire lives around trying to get in with the ‘bigger boys’ or reach a particular position in society, we are measuring our value and worth against a completely false bar.
Mindful Magic gives our children the space to focus on themselves and what is really important to them. We focus on building self-esteem and self-fulfilment. Do the bigger boys really matter? Does anything really change when you reach that high position in society? Ego says yes and strives for bigger and better, casting aside real happiness, connection with others and experiences for material wealth and short-term success.
3. Not taking thoughts so seriously.
Thoughts don’t mean everything. They come and go as quicker than that fly buzzing round your room. This is one of the most important ideas we focus on at Mindful Magic. We also recognise that it can be quick to hold on to those thoughts. Especially if we get lost in our ego. Our ego hates the present moment, so it’s constantly living in the ‘what if’ world or back in ‘Regret-ville’. When we come back to the present moment – whether it be by focusing on the breath or just having a moment to take it all in – we let go of our ego. We can almost watch our thoughts start to float away. Just by closing our eyes, tuning in and paying attention to how absolutely everything is temporary.
EVERYTHING is temporary. Let that settle for a moment.
Even our current situation is temporary. Completely unknown and ever-changing. Quite quickly at the moment it seems.
When we take our thoughts seriously, we believe the fear. We believe the worst-case scenario. We think we know exactly what is going to happen from one moment to the next. Looking back, could we have predicted this exact course of events in our country? Looking back, could we have guessed what turn the politicians were going to take?
We can make educated guesses, we can do the research, we can look at worst-case scenarios and act accordingly. But we can also acknowledge that what is happening right NOW is just as, if not more, important. And getting obsessed with the future we create in our heads or the past we wish we’d had is, at best, unhelpful. Meanwhile, we’re missing everything that’s happening right in front of our eyes. The joy, the love, the contentment…replaced by anger and hate that only we can feel. That we start reflecting back into the world in a vicious cycle.
As soon as we acknowledge that it’s okay to feel the anger, and it will soon pass, the less we become angry. As soon as we acknowledge it’s okay to feel hate, and it will soon pass, the less we hate.
4. Cultivating compassion
We create our own identity and way of thinking, and it can be hard to see the world from a different perspective. In fact, even when we start to believe we’re thinking like someone else, we’re only doing so through our own lens of what we ‘think’ that other person is thinking. We haven’t got a clue.
We can forget that everyone is seeing the world in a completely different and unique way, and that everyone is just doing their best with the tools they currently have. We can criticise others for their limited or inferior way of thinking and cast them off as ‘stupid’. We can argue how we understand things so much better and how disastrous the consequences are going to be.
You know you’ve done it. We all have. We all do. And we see politicians doing it all the time. Compassion has left the room.
I’m not suggesting we don’t debate or put forward our views. The nature of democracy is the ability to do just that. But what’s also important is to listen. Compassion helps us to do that because we develop an understanding that our views are just one version of right. It’s okay to disagree. But it’s important to listen, truly evaluate and make a decision that seems fair and just (obviously our own version of fair and just). Compassion is absolutely key to Mindful Magic. Cultivating compassion is about cultivating kindness for others on it’s most basic level, and it goes hand in hand with gratitude. Gratitude for ourselves, for everything around us, for others. This is where I often get told I’m being naïve and idealistic. But imagine a world where as much emphasis was placed on gratitude as achievement… Compassion pays greater attention to kindness and looking out for everyone, rather than becoming fixated on ourselves and our way of thinking. Compassion is acceptance.
As I sit on my sofa on a Tuesday evening in September 2019 and watch the circus on my TV screen, I can’t be the only one wondering how we can steer our children towards a more productive, kinder, more just way of living. I can’t be the only one thinking how ridiculous the whole system is, but feeling a little helpless to change it on a macro level.
The other option is grassroots. The other option is to start with our future citizens. Without going too much into my views on education, there seems so much scope to change our existing system and to bring in ways of learning that help children to grow and nurture in a really positive, compassionate and open way. The four suggestions I’ve made are just a ripple in a huge ocean of possibilities. But they’re important and equally as important as all the other possibilities.
Mindful Magic is about pausing, accepting and appreciating ourselves for who we are, acknowledging the temporary nature of thought (alongside everything else), nurturing compassion for ourselves and others, and letting go of fears. It is all of these things and it’s a start. For all of our children.
Imagine a world where there was just a little more focus on this. Imagine what impact we could start to have. Little by little. Individual by individual. Moment by moment.