Lessons from the Star Wars Saga is a series exploring powerful themes in Star Wars. For more than 40 years, the epic adventures in a galaxy far, far away have also been significant explorations of the human experience in our own universe.
When Obi-Wan Kenobi tells young Luke Skywalker to stretch out with his feelings, have you ever wondered what that actually means? And is it an ability limited just to Jedi and Force wielders in the galaxy far, far away? Absolutely not.
The seemingly simple instruction is at the heart of one of the Jedi’s core tenets: Mindfulness. From Yoda’s teachings to Luke in the original trilogy, to some of Qui-Gon’s most famous sayings, and even Luke’s instructions to Rey to just breathe in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, one of the prevailing themes in Star Wars is focusing on the present moment. We might not be Jedi in the real world, but we could all use a mindful pause in our busy days to appreciate the galaxy around us.
Mindfulness is the practice of stopping to take in the moment, including being aware of your emotions and everything around you. Remove all the distractions and the clutter of thoughts in your mind — the nagging to-do list and errands you need to run — and just breathe. Be aware of the world around you for a minute. In other words, stretch out with your feelings.
Qui-Gon Jinn uses mindfulness to ease anxieties of what might happen in the future, a lesson he imparts on his young Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. Be conscious of the future, he agrees. “But not at the expense of the present moment,” he tells Obi-Wan. In other words, don’t get so wrapped up in the “what if” that you forget to live in the now.
Anakin Skywalker’s fall can be traced back, in part, to a fear of the future and the desire to control it, a fear that Sheev Palpatine preyed on to complete his turn to the dark side.
As a young farm boy, Luke was often distracted by dreaming of what his future might hold, a fact Yoda admonished him for. “All his life has he looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was! What he was doing!” Yoda says with irritation in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
While it’s a difficult lesson for Luke to learn, it’s obvious that he finally does; in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi he is more mindful, less reactive, and focused on his surroundings.
It’s a lesson he imparts later on Rey. When Luke begins teaching her about the Force, he says simply, “Just breathe.” Slowing down and taking a deep breath is a vital part of mindfulness. Judging by the first few seconds of the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it’s a Jedi value that Luke has successfully passed on.
And you can practice mindfulness in almost anything you do when you pause to focus on the present moment. How do you feel? What do you hear and smell? What can you appreciate right now? You may be surprised at what you might notice inwardly and outwardly when you just breathe.
Kelly Knox is a freelance writer who loves creating Star Wars crafts with her daughter. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox.
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