How Religion Helps Me Understand “Mindfulness” (As an Atheist)

How Religion Helps Me Understand “Mindfulness” (As an Atheist)

I may be a bad hindu in many ways—a hindDON’T, if you will—but I do appreciate the symbolism and the stories of the religion I grew up in.

So if an atheist is allowed a favourite god, mine would be Ganesh.

And not just because he’s a quarter elephant with 4 arms. Or because he’s literally part of the Marvel comics universe (not joking, look it up). 

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Marvel movie adaptation starring Ron Perlman as Ganesh. No? Okay, another Spiderman reboot then.

What I like is that he’s considered the remover of obstacles and the god of wisdom.

And like most Hindu gods (and Power Rangers), Ganesh also has a dedicated “vehicle” or animal mount—in his case, a mouse.

I know what you’re thinking: *Someone* drew the shortest straw. Especially when some of the other gods roll through on tigers and lions.

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Shotgun! Oh…wait…

But I like to think this mouse represents those pesky, destructive thoughts—thoughts like envy, fear, anger, regret, “what if” and “never will”—that nibble holes in our happiness.

These unproductive thoughts enjoy biting at our heels and have the potential to become bigger obstacles than anything in front of us.  But Ganesh, with the weight of his wisdom (his body too; he’s not the slimmest god), knows he’s bigger than the mouse —these thoughts.

I’m still not sure what “mindfulness” means, or why it seems to be the cure-all for everything today, but I think this at least makes a good metaphor, a powerful reminder, that our own bodies are bigger than our thoughts.

It’s not only what you do to take care of your body, but how much time you spend taking care of your mind and cultivating good mental habits—something I’m trying to focus on as my life gets more hectic.

If we pay attention to ourselves—if we learn to step outside of our minds and put our foot down whenever we feel the need to stray toward negative thoughts—we can stop ourselves from being controlled by our thoughts, from letting them take a piece of our peace of mind.

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Finding Truth(s)


Finding Truth should not be easy. Anyone with a mouth or a pen needs only to pour the right words into our eyes and ears to make our hearts bleed. Emotions are not a product of reason; they can be provoked even before we sort fact from fiction, reports from rhetoric. A healthy cynicism can ward off naïveté, but it is a touch of optimism that affords us the open mind necessary to discover the Truth for ourselves. Instead of merely absorbing facts that have yet to be verified and yielding to emotions that have yet to be warranted, we can embark on a journey for truth. Through time and space, we can visit Truth’s many voices on the way to a destination. Maybe the Truth you arrive at will be different from that which I come to, but we’ll both find it in the same place: somewhere between two extreme opinions. You’ll know when you’re there, because it’s an uncomfortable place to be.

The Perfect Person



The perfect person has no acne, blemishes or scars. He is the ideal weight, height and complexion. He is also a she. They can do anything on their own, even give birth. They do not need to eat or drink, so they never feel hungry or thirsty. For them, even breathing is an option.

They can walk, run, fly and be anywhere at any moment; they are never late. Their hair is always the right length and style; it doesn’t ever grow. They will never need a doctor. In fact, they’re immune to all disease because they also cannot die.

The perfect person can create from scratch, anything. They can even fix what’s broken, anything at all. They don’t suffer from doubt or indecision. They always know what they are doing. They do the right things and never make mistakes. Because of this they never learn; but then they already know it all. They know how and who they should be, where and when it’s appropriate. Everyone likes them, nobody hates them. All want to be them.

But the one thing that the perfect person can never be is real. Because no one is perfect, no one is even close. The perfect person does not exist. Instead what we have are people, not long for the world, with needs and limits, who depend on others to exist. We have the broken pieces of people who know nothing of this world. We have people who are knockoffs of perfection, whose sloppy stitching you can see at a glance. We have people who project standards of perfection onto others while their own cracks are showing. We have people who know they are not perfect, and hate themselves for it.

Perfect may sound better, but if everyone was perfect they’d be perfectly the same, perfectly predictable like a perfect math equation. So perfect is not human. It is imperfection that creates variety in us; it is what allows people to be different, unique, the people who they are. I am imperfect and you are imperfect. He is imperfect and she is imperfect. And despite appearances, all of them are imperfect too. But we are all who we are because we are not perfect, and for that reason we can always become better. Perfect is the best, and so perfect has a limit. Perfect cannot be better, because perfect does not grow.

Perfect person, if indeed you do exist then you have nothing but my pity. Being perfect you must be fragile, for do you understand what perfect means? It means living inside absolute terms of never, forever, always. One flaw, a single mistake, one exception would destroy you, perfect person. But us imperfect people can survive a little inconsistency because we have room enough to grow. And that one strength, which all imperfect people possess, I believe is worth every other weakness.