woman in red shirt sitting on couch meditating

Mindfulness Hobbies

Hobbies and Mindfulness

We are restless because we are not centered. We are not centered because we aren’t self-sufficient. Hobbies can help us become more self-sufficient, and hence less restless, and more mindful.

Defining Mindfulness

One of the definitions offered by Oxford Languages for mindfulness is:

a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

This definition embodies a misconception.

The act of “focusing one’s awareness on the present moment” is the act of meditating. According to this definition, meditation is the only way to achieve mindfulness. This isn’t the case though.

Indeed, meditation is often used interchangeably with mindfulness. But in fact, while mindfulness is an end, meditation is only a means.

This idea is manifested in the Buddhist raft parable: after a traveler crosses a stream with a raft, it isn’t appropriate for them to keep carrying it. The raft was only a means, a tool.

Besides Meditating, How Can We Become Mindful?

Mindfulness is the opposite of restlessness.

Meditation is one way of dealing with restlessness: confronting restlessness head-on. Trying to dissolve it.

Eliminating reasons for restlessness is another way to deal with it.

What Keeps Us Restless?

We are often uncentered and therefore unbalanced.

In an effort to balance ourselves, we keep reaching out to all directions, as you do when you try to walk a tightrope.

We reach out to people and objects, to the past and the future.

We do it in an effort to define ourselves and get a sense of meaning.

By becoming more centered, we can become more balanced, more self-sufficient, and less restless.

How Can We Become More Centered?

At the center of our existence, it’s us. In order to be more centered, we need a better sense of ourselves, and of the self.

There are possibly two issues:

    1. We don’t know ourselves well enough. We don’t know how we operate, what’s good for us, and what’s not.
    1. We feel the need to maintain a coherent narrative of ourselves. We therefore obsess with the past and the future. While this attempt might feel essential, it isn’t true to reality: everything changes, and so are we. Indeed, some have a different concept of the self:

In Buddhism, the term anattā (Pali: अनत्ता) or anātman (Sanskrit: अनात्मन्) refers to the doctrine of “non-self” – that no unchanging, permanent self or essence can be found in any phenomenon.

Anatta | No-Self, Non-Attachment & Impermanence | Britannica

The two issues enforce each other: our lack of quality acquaintance with ourselves drives us to tell a cover story about ourselves. The story, in turn, makes it difficult for us to see ourselves clearly.

By overcoming these obstacles, we can become more self-sufficient, and less restless.

We are not really to blame. Most of our life was constructed by others: education, work, and general social constructionism. For most of our life, we were told what to do, and when and how to do it. No wonder we don’t know ourselves, we never got the opportunity.

Hobbies Can Help Us Develop a Better Sense of Ourselves, and Become More Mindful

This is where hobbies come into play. Hobbies are the only activities we do because we choose them, and solely for our own sake. It is a precious opportunity to meet and get to know ourselves better.

Furthermore, some hobbies have a simple meditating effect by their nature, knitting for example.

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