This Week’s Quote: ‘All of us are apprenticed to the same teacher that the religious institutions originally worked with: reality. Reality-insight says . . . master the twenty-four hours. Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. Repetition and ritual and their good results come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick – don’t let yourself think these are distracting you from your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape from so that we may do our “practice” which will put us on a “path” – it is our path.’ ~ Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild, as quoted in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
I’m certain that by someone’s definition, my current lifestyle would not sound very appealing to many who enjoy frequent outings whenever one pleases, the ability to spend an entire Sunday in bed, or being able to count on getting a full eight hours of sleep every night. To me, washing diapers, preparing baby food, rocking my son to sleep while singing to him, and going for walks to the park are the elements of a perfect day. Mind you, this wasn’t always the case. It took a bit of time for me to get used to and embrace the lifestyle of a mother.
Rather than dreaming of ways to escape reality, or at least to get a break from it, we can embrace it by remembering that there is much that can be learned when we stop daydreaming of and wishing for a different life. Instead, we can marvel at all the seemingly ordinary aspects of our day, and approach them with an attitude of mindfulness. When washing dishes, do you let you mind drift into a sweet daydream, or do you focus on the feel of the warm water on your hands and the scent of the dish soap? When going for a walk in the park, do you embrace the feel of the cool breeze on your face, the sounds of the birds singing and children playing nearby, or do you allow your mind to process the details of the day that has just passed?
When we consciously focus on each task that we undertake, we engage in an active form of mindfulness meditation and, therefore, allow our minds to rest, shutting off the constant chatter that otherwise takes place. It takes practice, but after a while, you may find it enjoyable to full focus on each task – no matter how mundane it may seem at first. You may also discover that such practice improves your concentration and focus in other areas, such as in conversations with friends and loved ones, at work, and during physical exercise. This week, I invite you to approach with mindfulness all tasks in which you engage. Try to make the most of all that you do today. It’s never a waste of time; every task can be made into a meditative exercise.
Affirmation: “Mindfulness is my lifestyle. I approach all that I do with an attitude of mindfulness.”
Wishing you an enjoyable week!