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What is Mindfulness?

When I conceived this video, I felt an enormous, burdensome weight of self doubt, judgment, and anxiety.  I questioned whether shooting it was the right thing to do.  Did its content fall in line with the message I want to share with others?  Did it reflect poorly on my ethics and my compassion and lack thereof?  I felt, in sitting down to make it, that I was crossing a derisive line; one in which I worked hard to dissolve.

Six years ago, when I first started my video series, I launched with a recap of a parking lot fight I had witnessed – not by choice – in the parking lot of a Target store on the Jersey Shore.  Getting caught in the fight, captured for me, the essence of where I felt I was both geographically and emotionally.  I had been a recent NYC transplant, plunked down in the suburbs of NJ, and was a new mom of an infant boy.  I was doing things I never in my life imagined, and not liking them.  I looked around at my surroundings and felt like an alien spinning aimlessly through a maze of tightwads.

Watching someone explode over a lost parking space was something I envisioned doing a million times, and also something from which I happily set myself apart. Telling stories was something I loved and utilizing my favorite medium to deliver my experience grabbed me.  I had also recently left the corporate world to raise my son and was feeling identity-less and disconnected from my career and colleagues.  Merging the immediacy of video, the documentation of events from my perspective, and the utilization of the vast array of social media platforms beckoned.  I told the story of the fight and posted it on Facebook, and, as my Karate Grandmaster says, “The crowd went wild.”  I had instant engagement, community, and support.  People were outspoken about the videos and reached out publicly and digitally to ask for more.  My series, "The REAL Jersey Shore," was eventually picked up for local cable and ran as a half-hour show to homes throughout the Garden State.

When I began studying meditation, a shift occurred.  I started to look more deeply at the way in which my words and actions affect me and others.  I began to embrace and tout the concept of equality and non-judgmental connection with everyone, everywhere.  I leaned on the teachings about accepting ourselves as the path to accepting others. The more I studied, the more I questioned my efforts on camera.  I decided the content I was creating was creating a divide: me verses him/her, and that that was not the message I wanted to send. I stopped my Shore series and shifted my content creation to covering my studies in mindfulness; with a focus on working through my anxiety and depression in an effort to promote inner and family harmony.

For the past almost four years, I created mindful parenting content.  I loved it because it enabled me to feature the work I was doing with my family and myself.  It brought my children closer to my passions, and fostered an unexpected and deeply loving bond with my meditation community.  It also sent me on a path back through psychotherapy, for which I am forever grateful and from which I have immensely benefited.  My work got picked up by other publications, and I was looked to for insightful meditative parenting content.

Then something else shifted.  I realized that I missed my suburban rants.  I realized that in turning them off, I also was turning off a part of me that I believed was unacceptable and potentially harmful to society.   And so I did what any practitioner would do, I sat with it (meditation-speak for giving it space with attempted emptiness).  I sat, I mentally scripted a video, I realized I was distracted, I came back. I kept sitting, I got carried off by other video fantasies, I cracked up, I came back. And, repeat.

I decided to listen to the voice inside that was asking to come out.  I sat down in front of the camera and hit record.  When I sat, I told myself I would just shoot but not post or share my work. I was petrified and my thoughts raced.  Would I be outted as a jerk?  Would being a jerk publicly cause me to lose my beloved meditation community when they realize I’m a jerk? Would my rant-loving-fellow-meatheady-Shore-goers take me back after learning about my dedication to spiritual studies? Am I causing harm with my words and actions? Is any of this okay? Am I okay? Will people like me? Will I get their approval?

By my many teachers, I was reminded to come back to where I am now. My video feels so very right, and yet it doesn’t.  But it most certainly feels like me.


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