Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I have no problem admitting when I am lost. Actually, lost is not entirely accurate. It's more like I am walking through a thick, dense fog. I know exactly where I am, I can see each step that I take, but my destination is obscured. It exists, but is currently unknown to me.

It feels as though I am in disconnect, directionless, a little bit sad. It is uncomfortable, but familiar. I recognize it now for what it is, having traveled this route before. For me it signals growth. It reminds me of things that I may have accidentally moved away from, distracted by life and all of its loud and busy accoutrements. The discomfort is necessary to remind me that it doesn’t have to be this way. “Wake up” it whispers in my dozing ear.

Once I recognize the feeling it becomes a signal to me that should I choose it, I can be better. I can know more. I can grow. I can taste joy and peace more deeply. More profoundly. This low state of being usually only lasts for several days, so should I choose to ignore the nudging and stay in my current state, I will be free to do so. That, however, is not an option for me. The path of growth may be a hard leap to take at times, but the soft and magical spots that I land in are always, always worth the effort.

When I find myself suspended in this state of disconnect I have a couple of tried and true methods that help me to find my way home again. An immediate and simple route to inner peace and joy is living in mindfulness.  What is mindfulness exactly? Mindfulness takes your world and makes it smaller, deeper and more meaningful. It transforms a lifetime into a single moment. Thismoment. It sounds so simplistic doesn’t it? Don’t we all do that every day, live in this moment? What other moment could we be in? Actually, what I discovered over years of practice that most all of us do this mindful living…never. I found that I was often engrossed in a story in my mind, real or imagined. I was lost to everything that was happening around me, to me, unless it forced me back to ‘real’ life with ferocity.

What will I make for lunch? What will I accomplish today? Reliving a disagreement with Scott. Planning, planning, planning. Well, what’s wrong with that? Don’t we admire those that can multitask with skill? I slowly discovered living that way builds a wall, brick by solid brick, between me and peace. If I choose to live in only this moment, and not one in the near or distant future, I know deep and true happiness and contentment. This moment is rich with sensations, often sadly lost to each of us. Right now my computer hums, my hands are chilled, I feel faint stirrings of hunger, my breath is slow and quiet, Jordan works across from me cutting and creating, the misty rain falls, Riley Mae turns pages of her book in the next room, the hard chair beneath my feet, my soft slippers, my warm sweater… all things I immediately noticed once I took myself back to the now. And firmly planted myself there

I read this line this morning and loved it, it sums up living mindfully so crisply ~

“You are invited to stay in the house of the Tathagata (Buddha), but your habit energy makes you sleep night after night among the reeds.” ~ King Tran Thai Tong

We all have the opportunity to live peacefully, lovingly, joyfully but the habits that we create over a lifetime prevent this from becoming our reality. Instead of resting and living in love, we sleep in the reeds, night after night. Rustle. Poke.

How does one live mindfully? I can only tell you what has worked for me. I believe that if you were to embark on a journey of mindfulness you would discover your own path, once you began to trust your spirit voice once more. With me it begins as a kind of settling in. Often I find myself lost in words in my mind. I am continually writing blogs posts, letters, having imaginary conversations ~ words, words, words. Because of my great commitment to a mindful life I am often able to recognize pretty quickly when this has happened. I lose reality, what is transpiring around me, the real moment becomes soft, blurry. (You know when you're driving somewhere and once you've arrived you can't actually remember half of the journey?) So, I begin by stepping back into myself. I literally slip back into my body. I feel my arms, legs, fingers, chest, nose, breath. There is an indescribable tingly, energetic feeling when I step back into my body in this moment. I can feel myself, my form.

Once I am lovingly esconced back in my human form I will start to notice more around me. I take my attention to my ears and search out noises that were lost to me in my hazy mind world. Girls chattering, winds blowing, rain falling, computer keys tapping. Then I may direct my attention to my eyes or my nose. What other glorious sensations have my senses missed?

From there I make each movement mindful. This often causes me to slow down, which I really have come to appreciate. Instead of rushing, rushing, my steps have a quiet and steady purpose. I feel each step as I walk down the stairs. I feel the water, the soap, the dishcloth as I was dishes. It is something I must do continually, my habit energy runs deep. But when I choose to live this way I live each moment fully. Completely. It gives me a reverence for life, my life, which I didn’t have before. It allows each step I take, each breath I take, the opportunity to release positive energy into the world. I feel it, the people around me can feel it, those positive, peaceful energy waves travel far and wide. Today if I do nothing else to change the world I can live mindfully… and change the world. JWe all have this ability and its effects are far reaching and profound.

But what about lunch? Or that project? Or that argument? They will all be taken care… when it’s their moment. When it’s time to make lunch, then I will mindfully decide what’s on the menu today. When it’s time to work on that project, I will do so purposefully and completely thus opening the door to inspiration and creativity. Perhaps I will set aside time later to figure out what to do about that disagreement, how to best deal with it lovingly and kindly. Living mindfully doesn’t mean nothing gets accomplished. It does mean that what I do accomplish is blessed with my full attention and concentration. It means that whatever I set about doing, I give it with 100% of my focus. I won't stub my toe if I'm walking mindfully. I won't cut my finger if I'm chopping vegetables mindfully. "Accidents" often happen when we divide our focus into so many little pieces that it becomes a miracle that anything gets done at all. Not much, if anything, is done to the very best of our abilities. Often while completing one task, our mind is already racing ahead to what's next on the list. No wonder so many of us have lost our joy, always racing ahead. Never quite getting there.

I call this the "Grass is Always Greener" Syndrome. Most everyone I know suffers from this human affliction.  Things will be better, happier when I'm done with this and doing that... well, we lose an awful lot of our lives that way. Moments lost in favor of better ones. Moments that could have been wonderful and peaceful in themselves. Even if we are paying bills, washing dishes, changing diapers or folding laundry. Each task taken and performed mindfully is the opportunity to be present, touching the seeds of joy and peace already here. Some of the most mundane, everyday tasks I perform help me to live the most mindfully. Hanging laundry is my most favorite  mindful task ~ warm sun, clean clothes, chattering birds, buzzing bees, soft grass. Mmmmm, heaven.  

I find that living mindfully fills me with gratitude over the silliest of things. It makes me see things I would normally take for granted but become obvious to me once I have my eyes wide open. I say silent thank you all day long. Time and again gratitude fills me over things that have been there all along, but I was blind to all the same. {Thank you Jordan for all of these lovely photos, yet again. :)}

I think that it would probably be easier to live a life of mindfulness were I a monk, sheltered in the far, distant mountains of Tibet. When your whole world becomes about your spiritual practice, surrounded by others also on the same journey, the energy created must facilitate rapid growth and peace. For most of us, this isn’t an option. For most of us, life is filled to the brim with distractions and moments that seem (on the surface anyway) to impede our spiritual growth. I’ve found this to be emphatically untrue. I’ve found that those moments of frustration, anger, or discomfort only serve to give us countless opportunities to learn new habits and deeper ways of living. Should we choose to use them as such.

There are times, such as the one I find myself in now, where distance is necessary. I pull away from the outside world in order to nuture and water that seed of mindfulness in me. We each have that seed and sometimes we need peace and silence to foster its growth. I meditate more and read books that help me to grow. I talk less, I intereact less. I turn inward and seek out the peace that I know is there. Spirit conspires with me to bring about the answers I seek, to lift that fog and illuminate my destination. As I type we have no power, no electricity in the house. I don’t know why, but I know why. The peace, the quiet has been the perfect backdrop for organizing these thoughts and words. And how “lucky” that my computer happens to be fully charged and waiting. ;) I have refrained from blogging recently in my attempt to shelter myself. I knew this morning that I need to continue to share my story. I know, knowthat there is (or will be) one person out there who can read these words and see the hope that they are meant to inspire. One person who will make it all the way to the end of this very long post and feel that they can make a change right now, with one mindful breath, towards a peaceful and joyful existence. After all, if it's possible for one, it's possible for all.

And so, I continue to share my story with you in the hopes that my words can help just one other. Much as the words I read and feverishly digested from others fed and watered seeds of hope in me when I needed them the most. As I wrap up this post I am giggling… the power has just popped back on, filling my world with distractions and noise once again. But that’s okay, they simply serve to water the seeds of mindfulness. Over and over and over again.

Before I leave you perhaps you have an extra 3 minutes to watch this video, or better yet listen to the words. It looks like someone took it on their phone, but it was my most favorite because it shows the passion in  Jason Mraz's face so well. The very first time I heard these lyrics I was smitten. I've told Scott that should he ever leave me, I will hunt down Jason and make him mine...  or at the very least beg him to sing me this song... one hundred times. ;) 

Have a lovely day friends. J

Peace & Blessings ~ Melinda