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Vipassana and Mindfulness Blog

Mindfulness is simply practicing awareness with what's here. That's meditation, whether you're on a mountaintop, at work, or on a roller coaster.

How the Flannel Buddha Reached Nirvana

“Whatever.”

The term “Gen X” still gives me hives. In early ’90s, someone decided that was our name and deemed us to be slackers. Society said that we were disillusioned, disenfranchised, disgorged, disemboweled, dis- this, dis- that … and oh yeah, Kurt Cobain apparently spoke for all of us. Our dutifully assigned anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” ended with “oh well, whatever, never mind.” If “Generation X” was in the dictionary back then, the picture would have shown a grungy, unemployed, utterly indifferent scruffball posing in mid-shrug. (Dear Millennials: this flannel-clad scruffball sees you and is sorry for what you’re going through.)

At our recent Stop Poking the Bear event, we had a charismatic first-timer who’s exploring meditation to make deep, lasting life changes. He introduced himself and said “I’m just trying to find peace and … whatever.”

I think he’s going to do well.

One of my greatest blessings with this practice is that I didn’t think it would do a damn thing.


The utter lack of expectation (let alone a goal) meant I was open to receive … well, whatever. And I’ve gotten a LOT of whatever, in various shapes, flavors, and degrees of pleasantness. Anything that ever presents itself in the course of practice needs to be seen, but we often miss “whatever” is there because we’re looking for peace.

It can seem kind of weird to think about doing something without an end result in mind. What’s the point? But that’s just one of the fun paradoxes of mindfulness and insight meditation; this practice will give you everything if you ask nothing of it.

I suppose the Buddha wasn’t actually the first Gen X member, and while may have reached nirvana, I’m fairly certain he didn’t listen to them. Even still, I invite you — regardless of which generational stamp you received — to join me and embrace your inner slacker during your practice.

I normally start my guided sessions with a reminder to sit tall and allow your shoulders to relax, but just this once, let’s close our eyes, open our hearts … and shrug.


Then see what comes up.

Whatever it is.

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