What is Mindfulness? - The Philosophy of “I don’t give a damn Sh*t”

My mum hiking The Stawamus Chief, Squamish, BC

I have very cool parents. A father with the ability to dream big, despite life’s knock backs, the man still has some big aspirations. His encouragement is limitless and he has every confidence that, no matter what I do, I’ll be okay.

My mother on the other hand, she lives by one philosophy which she insists on passing down through generations. A guru in her own right, my mother never ever gave a "damn sh*t!” We, we being myself and my siblings, all used to laugh at her funny sayings, this one in particular.

My parents grew up in a generation surrounded by very strict Indian traditions and extremely outdated cultural practices. Also, one of the first generations to genuinely experience the struggles of integrating into a western society, from racial prejudice through to raising children that adopted very different values to those she and my father were raised with.

An avid reader, my mum grew up reading books on philosophy, psychology, and spirituality. She generally read anything that allowed her mind to explore, to escape the realities she was forced to surrender to. All our lives, during the troubles that came with financial turmoil, crooked family politics and the bullsh*t that came with living an arranged life, she never let her spirit die.

We all grew up hearing “I don’t give a damn Sh*t!” around the house, as she belted it out during stressful moments. In her charming in-glish accent (an Indian accent with an English undertone), followed by a delightful laugh that made any unfortunate situation seem small and insignificant. It’s only during the last few years, having figured out my own path in life, I connected with what mum actually meant by the words she uttered.

My mum has practised mindfulness her entire life, before the world began trending it, mum was living it. In every difficult situation, she would never let negativity infiltrate her mind. It was like this mantra shielded her from turning into a bitter old lady; resenting the world and everyone in it.

I always thought she held onto a hope that things would get better one day, as many do in unfortunate circumstances. I thought that was where she drew her strength. In actuality, that one-day was always her present day, the here and now was the time to laugh off her troubles and focus on whatever bliss currently existed, however big or small. Be it the fact that we had a day with a full healthy meal on our plates or, at the very least, love and closeness in our family.

Today, at 64, mum continues to share lessons of mindfulness to any person she meets. It makes complete sense why people warm up to her very quickly. She lives life as if life is literally the only thing she owns, and so long as she maintains control over her own mind, the force that drives her life, she’s the most fortunate person she knows.

So no matter what situation you’re faced with, no matter what your current circumstances are, practise having full control over your mind and be aware of your thoughts. That’s what mindfulness is. Mum taught us to focus on everyday bliss, however big or small, it exists, we just have to start paying attention to it.

Negativity can only affect us if we allow it to and what mum actually means by ‘not giving a sh*t’, isn’t that she doesn’t care, it’s that she’ll continue to fight for the one thing that can’t ever be taken from her; she will never surrender her mind to negativity, no matter how hard life tries.

VanCity

Terry Sidhu

VanCity Life Coach, Vancouver, BC, Canada