Being Mindful, Part I

by Bodie Coates

Somewhere in Indonesia there is a type of bug called the Tiger beetle. It is often described as the fastest sprinter in the animal kingdom. This beetle moves at over 5 miles per hour, which for its size equates to something like 400 miles per hour if it were a human. This beetle in its various forms is a predator and uses this intense speed to attack prey. At first, that isn’t terribly interesting, but when this beetle is examined further we find something amazing. When it sprints and tackles prey at full speed, it does so completely blind. Its tiny little bug brain shuts down as it bolts at its prey purely on instinct and patterned behavior without any vision.

Tiger beetles probably don’t have a lot of profound thoughts throughout their life. Regardless, they still process things and organize and arrange stimulus into concrete and easy to process information. “Large creature equals threat,” “Tiny creature equals food,” “Ready, aim, and attack.” It may seem hard to relate to this concept as a human being, with our large and complex developed brains, but I invite you to consider how this same effect is present in your own life.

Take a moment to look around the area around you.

Regardless of where you are, I can say with some assurance that if you are truly mindful of the area you are in, even if it is a room you’ve been in before, you will see something you haven’t seen before. Maybe try looking up at the ceiling or at the nearest thing above you… notice anything unfamiliar? Maybe a bump or texture you never noticed. Give it another try…

What you see may seem insignificant, and it really is, that’s why your brain filtered it out all the other times before that. You see, our brains are incredibly good at taking in information but only if it deems that information as relevant or important. For example, imagine walking down the street passing people as you walk. As you pass, your brain registers that they are a person, and some minor details that your history and experience has deemed as important to you. Your brain may tell you “that person is a threat” or it may simply notice them and allow you to keep moving. By the end of your walk, if you aren’t actively attending to the situation, you will probably be unable to tell someone how many people you passed or what they looked like. When we are not mindful of our world, we let our brain do the walking and move forward without attention. Mindfulness is the key word there.

Being mindful of our environment brings us a better sense of being connected to the world and to others, thus making us feel more joy and act like we have a purpose in life. If you go about your day like a tiger beetle, you will start to think you are insignificant and aren’t connected to anything… when quite the contrary is true, we are connected and you are significant in your consciousness. So, how do we practice this? Well, that is a topic for another blog… Take care!