Please take a look at the “about” page to see the circumstances that have encouraged me to start blogging again.
Did you know you have a different body to the one you had seven years ago? I don’t just mean that you’ve aged and might have put some weight on; your physical body has been replaced with virtually a completely new one.
Like on Doctor Who (but without the drama) at a molecular level, the body has regenerated. On average, during the space of seven years every cell either dies off and is replaced or its constituent parts are renewed. This includes the brain’s with the circuitry that gives us a sense of self. So who was that younger self? If it’s all new, is it still “me” or “you”?
I’ve been grappling with this concept during the past week. As the benefits of mindfulness practice had begun to placate the anxieties of middle age and my disabling illness, a very old friend (from what really does seem like a past life) posted some old photos of me on Facebook . Suddenly I was seeing pictures of a healthy backpacker travelling in the middle east who was “me” but three molecular re-generations of body ago!
If I compare that fit young twenty-two year old, who was able to cycle in forty degree heat from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings, with my present self there’s so little that’s the same except for the sense of “me”. And if I look for the “me” that’s remained fixed and permanent since then, it’s unfindable.
The experience has reminded me of an insight gained during the Mindfulness for Health course: everything is process. There is nothing that is fixed, so anything (whether pleasant or unpleasant) will change continuously from moment to moment. Each moment is totally fresh and new.
That’s a great insight to have if you are in pain, and is the reason we were taught to turn towards “difficult” experiences. Under calm observation, it’s possible to experience the pleasant and the unpleasant (and there’s nearly always both if you look) as just process. Nothing more, nothing less. With that insight can come a great sense of freedom from suffering.
The tulips featured here and in two previous posts have “processed” to the point where the petals have dropped. If I’m mindful enough to put them in the compost, they will regenerate as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed these mindful thoughts and photos.
Words and pictures © Miles Pilling