Mindfulness & the Chaos of Voices

Even a little experience trying to cultivate what the Buddhists (and others) call "mindfulness" demonstrates one thing for certain: the mind is a chaos of voices. At least mine is. If the goal is to observe and ultimately come into some kind of harmony with the chaos of voices, that is a robustly active attitude that paradoxically emerges from what appears to be passivity; on the other hand, the Western materialist approach to the mind, which sees it as some kind of epiphenomenon of a biological system, is strangely passive, leaving one powerless over the voices because one has denied their existence as real things.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

2 thoughts on “Mindfulness & the Chaos of Voices”

  1. Spot on observation. I just returned from a six-day yoga retreat (which is about as long as I can sneak away from two children under five years old) and although silence is what I constantly crave (given that I have two children under five), when confronted with the silence and stillness of the morning meditation sessions I was about as mindful as a five year old. The meditation sessions were SO MUCH more challenging than the times of active yoga poses. Give me 20 asanas, just don’t make me try to quiet my mind for half an hour. It’s exhausting.

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