Mindfulness in a New
Colonial Age

By Robert Althouse

It’s estimated that the average person now sees about 5,000 ads a day. The all-consuming impact of technology infiltrates your life on a daily basis, and it has a voracious appetite that demands your attention.


We are living in a new age, not just an age of distraction but a new colonial age where the colonial lords no longer need proxy armies to exploit the resources of others. They have Madison Avenue and multi-media empires instead. And make no mistake about it. They are mining your attention. They will do whatever it takes to get you to buy their product, the next version, the next cell phone, the next video game. So attention itself has become a scarce commodity.

One of the symptoms of this sad state of affairs is your increasing disembodiment. You no longer trust the wisdom of your body, and you’ve forgotten how to listen to it with patience and respect. Your body, mind and heart are out-of-sync, so things come at you suddenly from out of left field. This is unsettling and bewildering. For some it may be the source of panic attacks. Your fragmented and distracted awareness is the source of much of your anxiety and disconnectedness.

If you want to take back your life you’ll need to reclaim your attention. Mindfulness meditation can help you do that. Mindfulness is a grounded, embodied awareness. Awareness of the breath brings you back into the present and into your body. It helps you sync up your disjointed body, mind and heart. This mindful awareness is the source of healing, health, wellness and a genuine spiritual path of awakening I call living a Zen-inspired life.

Setting aside time to meditate may not be easy. It will require some courage. You’ve colluded with your colonial masters by using their distractions to run away from yourself. And now you’ll taking a gigantic step towards personal freedom and social responsibility. It will take time and patience.

Fortunately there are genuine traditions and teachers and communities to guide you. Seek them out and commit to living the full measure of your humanity. Sanity and wisdom have never left you. But unless you reclaim your attention you’ll never trust it. It’s the richest resource you have. Don’t squander it. And don’t give it away.

About The Author

Robert Althouse
Roshi Robert Joshin Althouse is a fully empowered Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage and a fully ordained Zen Buddhist Priest. Roshi and his wife, Rev. June Ryushin Tanoue, co-founded the Zen Life & Meditation Center. Roshi is the Abbot of the Zen Center and it’s primary teacher and meditation instructor. Althouse began teaching in Hawaii where he and his wife co-founded the Zen Center of Hawaii in 1993. He has been teaching for over 25 years and has lead countless meditation retreats, workshops, and classes. He and his wife moved to California in 2001 to work for the Peacemaker Community with Bernie Glassman. where Althouse served as the Director of the Zen Peacemaker Order for two years. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship for three years. Althouse has been practicing in the Zen and Vajrayana traditions for over 40 years. He’s been teaching for over 20 years. His root teachers were Taizan Maezumi Roshi and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He received Transmission from Roshi Nicolee Jikyo McMahon in the White Plum lineage tradition of Zen. He has a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Redlands. Althouse currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois with his wife June Tanoue, where they run the Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago. He is also an artist. His work can be seen at www.althouseart.com.


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