What a Farm Horse Taught Me about Being Mindful

by | Mar 8, 2016 | Food for Thought, Liberating the Mind | 0 comments

I have discovered that having lingering thoughts during martial arts practices is a big no-no. Because my thoughts are cut short when my face meets my opponent’s fist. That was my first lesson in mindfulness. Being mindful means I have the opportunity to parry and counterattack.


Not being mindful means I get more cuts and bruises.


We seek to quiet the mind and live in the present moment. Technology is wearing us out and we are getting too distracted. And then the Eastern Philosophy of being mindful comes along. Mindfulness has become a buzzword. A search on Amazon.com for books on mindfulness will get you 8000 titles.



Being Mindful

Being Mindful, as defined by Psychology Today, is “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, being mindful means living in the moment and awakening to experience”.


If you are new to the concept of being mindful, it could come across as something mind boggling. Therefore, let’s begin with the tale of the farmer and his horse:


The Farmer and His Horse

A long long time ago there lived a farmer with his wife and son. On his farm he has a horse and one day it ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came by and said to him, “Without your horse and your farm will suffer. How unlucky!”


Maybe,” the farmer replied.


The next morning, the horse returned with three wild horses. “Now you are three horses richer. How wonderful!” the neighbors uttered.


Maybe,” the farmer replied.


The farmer’s son was excited to see three new horses. He tried to ride one of them, got thrown off and broke his leg. The farmer’s neighbors came by again and offered their sympathy. “With your son’s injury, you will have more work than you can handle. How unfortunate!” they said.


Maybe,” the farmer replied.


The following day, conscription officials came to seize young men for the army. The farmer’s son was exempted due to a broken leg. The neighbors congratulated the farmer for the pleasant turn of events. “Most young men never return alive from the war. How fortunate!” they said.


Maybe,” the farmer replied.



Cultivate the Habit of Being Mindful

This ageless Zen parable illustrates how one can cultivate the habit of being mindful. One surefire way is by observing life and events without attaching negative or positive judgments to them. Being mindful is about developing non-judgmental awareness where you can find beauty in the present moment.


Non-judgmental awareness is the first step to living blissfully. Be aware that our brains is on auto pilot when it comes to judging a person or situation. Thus it takes a conscious effort over a period of time to recondition the mind to suspend judgment.


Being judgmental, especially in a negative way, affects us personally. The act of judging anything negatively may result in negative focus leading to negative action with negative consequences.Take a positive step today by practicing non-judgment. Begin your day with a prayer from A Course in Miracles that states, “Today I shall judge nothing that occurs.”


Use this statement to remind yourself throughout the day each time you are making judgment. When you begin this exercise, you may want to start with one hour of “non-judgment time” and increase the time gradually as you progress.


May you find freedom and contentment in your daily practice of being mindful.

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