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Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

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Tomorrow is the third Monday of the new year.

For many of us, Sunday night is the inbreath before the next segment in this grand procession of Tomorrows. Reluctant, resigned or renewed, it’s time to bid another weekend farewell, and prepare to head back into that breach.

Yet it’s only the third Monday of a new year. I don’t know the average time it takes for New Year Resolutions to become forgotten, but I certainly feel that now is too soon. It’s far too early to already slip back into the old habits, the old routines, without consciously resisting falling into the worn-out grooves of behavior, of thought, of expectation.

It’s tough to climb out of those ruts, especially all at once. But even starting small is a huge start. Just one conscious effort can be enough to remind us to remain mindful of other ways we can live better.

As you find yourself preparing to face another week, another day, another moment… what would you most like to change? What do you feel likely to do or say that you would prefer to prepare to do differently? What do you subconsciously expect to feel that doesn’t have to be experienced in that way?

How could you, in one small way, experience a better week?

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Today was a beautiful day.

The weather was inviting, and the people moreso.

I spent wonderful time with my family.

I purchased fresh, delicious food from a local market dedicated to supporting our community.

I paused to appreciate the wonderfully blessed life I’ve had the opportunity to build for myself.

I got to walk among peacocks, flamingos, wild cats, tourists from across the world, and neighbors from across the county.

Today was a beautiful day.

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I couldn’t quite figure out why I was so groggy yesterday, and had a hard time focusing.

As with many questions in life, though, the answer came to me at 3am … this time, in the form of an awful stomach-ache.  I’d been coming down with something.

I wasn’t happy to realize I was sick, as of course I had plans on what to accomplish today. But I quickly remembered that sort of resistance wasn’t helping me get well. So I turned my focus on taking care of myself, and I’m getting ready to rest once more.

When mortals are alive, they worry about death.
When they’re full, they worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great Uncertainty.

But sages don’t consider the past.
And they don’t worry about the future.
Nor do they cling to the present.
And from moment to moment they follow the Way.

– Bodhidharma

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It’s not yet the seventh day of the new year, and I should have taken more time to rest. I worked extra last night to prepare for a pretty big morning, and woke up a little early feeling as though my sleep didn’t quite happen.

The morning went quite well, but left me fairly wiped out by the afternoon. I did my lunchtime yoga, made it through the rest of the workday, then came home feeling as though perhaps I should take it a bit easier.

I didn’t, really.

I made a fun, half-simple, half-involved dinner because my son wanted it to be my birthday. I then got onto the cross-trainer for my full new routine and lightly pulled a muscle in my leg. Fortunately I had the sense to soak it in a soothing Epsom salt bath, but by the time I was out of that and helped my son through his going-to-bed routine, I had just enough time to have a nice little dessert.

I’ve had a very busy 48 hours, and I want to stay up more and play a game, watch a silly movie, read philosophy… anything but go right to bed without really kicking back for some recreation.

But I’m tired. So I’m going to sleep.

Good night!

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It’s one thing to talk about how each moment we live is Special in its own way. Yet without being able to experience that sparkle, it’s all just talk. That’s where simple mindfulness helps us out.

Let’s say you’re starting your morning tomorrow. You’re driving to work, on a bus, walking, getting the children dressed… whatever is an essential start to your daily routine. And on the face of things, it’s just like every other day.

Perhaps you didn’t sleep well. Perhaps it’s too hot or too cold. Perhaps someone’s cutting you off or arguing with you… but we’ll deal with people in the next post. In your imaginary tomorrow morning, just focus on the events and environment.

If tomorrow morning really is just like every other morning, what if it was the first — what if you were seeing or doing that routine for the very first time? What little details or insights does it all hold that you hadn’t noticed before? If you take a deep breath and pause to take a look around you, what sight, sound or even habit has become hidden behind the inattention of monotonous routine?

Taking it all a step further, are there opportunities in this routine that you hadn’t really thought about? Is there scenery or a landmark you could consciously enjoy as you pass? Are there uplifting or enlightening things you could listen to or read as you make your journey? Could you listen and observe a little more attentively, respond a little more kindly, and practice a little more patience, especially with yourself?

Please, if you can, take a moment tomorrow morning to think about these kinds of questions as you begin your day. I think you’ll discover more Special moments in your daily life, and in doing so, add to the Specialness for those around you.

What in this moment
hides like the Moon behind clouds?
What more may I bring?

 

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People tend to assume that for something to be Special, it must be Bigger Than, Better Than, Greater Than… or any other kind of superlative that makes it extraordinarily exceptional.

But that’s only one kind of Special. The first definition of Special at Dictionary.com says:

  1. of a distinct or particular kind or character

That is, something that has a distinct character, particular to itself. It doesn’t have to be Bigger, Better, or any other kind of superlative. There’s no competition that can declare who or what is Special. Rather, it takes mindfulness to find what is Special in all that surrounds us.

In this way, each moment is Special: it carries lessons and sensations unique in itself, which we can take advantage of only if we stop to appreciate what the moment brings

Each experience is Special: it carries challenges and pleasures in good ways and bad, and we can best learn from them only if we recognize it for the opportunity it is.

Each person is Special: we each contain our own blend of experiences and perspectives, which we can share in only if we stop to appreciate what each of us have to offer.

As I get back into my daily routines this week, I’m going to try to remain mindful of the Special nature of what I encounter and experience. I’m interested to see how it helps me better identify the opportunities before me, and make greater use of them as I start this year.

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Let’s pretend you are a community bus.

When a single mother needs to get to her second job, you’re right there to get her to work on time. When an elderly couple need to get some  groceries at the store they’d gone to for decades, you deliver them right there, and back. And when children need to get to the park, you are their first choice to bring them!

Yes, whatever people need, you’re always ready and willing to share of yourself, giving all you can. That’s how you become a good and valuable vehicle for kindness, right?

Or is that really all there is to it? What if giving of yourself whenever you possible can doesn’t make you the best vehicle for kindness you should be?

What happens when a vehicle is always in service, never taking time out to be idle, to be repaired? Yep, it breaks down. Often, right in the middle of the busiest crunch time, leaving people stranded when they could instead have had their needs met through contingency plans.

How often do you schedule yourself time to repair, and recuperate? Is it nearly enough to fulfill your responsibility to keep yourself as healthy, centered and grounded as you can be?

Also, sometimes giving someone a free ride right to where they want to be isn’t the best way for them to get there. What if there was a much better job for that mom nearer her home, one that would give her enough hours so she could just work one — but she never looked for it, because she had a ride to her other ones? What if there was cheaper, fresher food at a market right next door, but they never broke their habits and tried it? If the park is just a block or two from the children’s home, wouldn’t it be healthier for them to walk there?

How often do you feel as though you’ve failed someone when you can’t get them what you think they need? Could you do with more patience when it seems like things aren’t working out, and instead open your heart and mind to better possibilities? Are you able to accept that maybe your help isn’t what’s needed in a given situation, or at least not the way you’d thought?

I think that on some level, most of us realize that we need to take better care of ourselves. We may even put some guilt onto that, piled onto the guilt we may also carry about not being able to do more for other people, too.

I think we’d do well to fret about it all just a bit less, and simply schedule that time to take care of ourselves. Where we feel we’ve fallen behind a bit — so what? We are where we are. Winding ourselves up into not being where we think we want to be is a waste of precious time and energy. Our energy is best spent in tending to our own needs, moving forward in the way and pace that suits us best.

I’ve heard all these things before, and I think even written them, too. Yet I’ve been working through these lessons lately… again… and thinking that writing this all down may help me in my practice.

In this case, I think practice isn’t about getting perfect; it’s about being at peace with and tending to our imperfection.

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