Right Mindfulness and Petite Women Who Kick Butt
“Four ounces can move a thousand pounds.”
I once had a student come up to me outside of class and say, “Are you always this tall?” I guess with the change in perspective of standing right next to me rather than sitting in a desk looking up at me, he suddenly became aware that I can shop in the petite section.
Perhaps this is why I’ve always had an affinity for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series that features Sarah Michelle Gellar (who’s an inch taller than me actually) as a petite young woman able to conquer any and every monster, even if she dies some along the way.
One of my favorite episodes is “Once More with Feeling,” a musical that features a training scene where Buffy blocks everything thrown her way with ease. Here is Right Mindfulness. Buffy is completely in the moment of the training challenge, not worrying about the reason for the training: an enemy she will have to face in order to save everyone yet again.
I was reminded of that scene recently when watching the new Disney adaptation of Mulan featuring another young, small woman who saves the entire empire of China.
Like the original cartoon, Mulan is told she must fulfill her duty, which, as a Chinese woman, means marrying a man selected for her and obeying her husband.
What the adaptation emphasizes, however, is Mulan’s connection to her chi, the life-force that is within everyone and connects everyone and everything. Within her culture, she is meant for domestic duty, but her chi is telling her otherwise. She is a warrior.
This is a burden.
Buffy and Mulan both carry burdens. Buffy’s burden consists of keeping her vampire-slaying skills a secret and, of course, slaying monsters. Mulan carries the weight of keeping secret her identity as a woman, fearing being discovered, and knowing that she is bringing disgrace to her family.
Yet they both stay focused on the moment. They both exercise Right Mindfulness.
Mindfulness does not equate with euphoria. It means tuning in even if battling the enemy.
Sometimes the enemy can be everyday burdens.
As I ran mindfully this morning, no music and tuning into nature as well as my body, feelings, and thoughts, I realized I was tired, angry, and anxious. That’s not comfortable, of course, but that was my reality in that moment. It’s week five of the semester, and I’m feeling some burnout managing this new world of teaching during a pandemic.
Right Mindfulness means that I don’t run from those feelings but rather run with them. I’m saying hi to them, exploring with curiosity what’s going on. By doing so, I can engage the other seven parts of the Eightfold Path and not stay stuck with that chi-blocking negative energy. Right Mindfulness means I can recognize what I’m feeling and be a spiritual warrior.
Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy, explained that each season’s villain was an external projection of the interior struggles Buffy herself was facing. That meant Buffy got to face her fears, quite literally, directly.
Like Buffy, we can conquer our fears by facing them directly through Right Mindfulness. And don’t worry: every time Buffy died, she came back to life. That’s what facing fears will do, change us so much that we are no longer the same. That’s why it’s scary and important work.
With Right Mindfulness, we can be warriors too.