Each day my heart wakes with a yearning sort of feeling. Not for love, or things, or new places to visit, but for betterment. Enlightenment is the word that comes to mind, but for so many, there is a religious prejudice attached to that word, that stops them dead in their tracks and creates some sort of fear within. I do not feel that way, I feel drawn to a word that bespeaks of understanding life better. Getting a handle on the emotions that sometimes rule us and have us say or do things we regret later. As I grow older, it feels to me like a time of preparation, of looking within, with crystal clear vision of who and what I really am. No longer so busy with raising a family, no longer burdened with some sort of self imposed sense of needing to be super woman, super mother, super anything for that matter, but feeling the need to be so full of compassion for others, that all the bad attitudes, all the aggravating situations, angry people etc, appear as they really are....people suffering. We so often have it in our hearts to read a story about an abused animal that bit someone, and our first response is often, "oh, that poor dog, no wonder he bit someone, being abused like that for years." and our hearts fill with compassion for the dog, yet, when a person is aggravating us, perhaps a sharp answer, a biting remark, a rude action, we have less compassion for them than we do for the dog that bit a person. No doubt, that rude person is suffering from the results of some form of abuse. Perhaps a bad childhood, a hard time at school, a nasty boss that degrades them, a less than loving relationship, or perhaps their suffering is poverty, created by circumstances beyond their control or perhaps self inflicted by self indulgence. A persons suffering can be from a feeling of little or no self worth, that fills them with an anger so deep, that they have no idea how to reach it to change it.
So, this journey of mine, the one where simplicity is sought at greater levels each and every day, has taken me on a course of mindfulness. For years I have read Jon Kabat Zinn and nodded my head at the wisdom he imparts, but I just could not still my brain enough to fully grasp what being mindful really is. The reason I could not quite, "get it" was that I was always multitasking, even while reading, my mind would drift off to something I want to be doing, should be doing, would like to do. I have spent my life, doing two things at once, or actually more than two things most of the time. I would read, listen to music and have something baking in the oven. I would iron while doing laundry and in years past, do that while I was teaching the children. Even now, in the evening I watch TV while I I knit, drink tea, talk and assume I am giving my husband lots of my attention. I sleep with my iPhone next to me, grabbing it like a seeing eye dog if I happen to wake in the night to make a trip to the bathroom, checking my mail and facebook while I do my business.Each morning I sit on the back porch, eating breakfast, bird watch, and try to read a book. No more. I watched Thich Naht Hanh on Oprah and he said something so profoundly beautiful, that it has transformed how I do everything....He spoke to her about 4 mantras, the first one, "Darling, I'm here for you....when you love someone, the best thing you can offer him or her is your presence. How can you love if you are not there." He says so much more that is eye opening, and you can watch this part of the interview here
After watching this clip, I realized that I am not "there" quite often, even when eating. I eat mindlessly, and when that thought came to me, life has changed even more. This little youtube video got things really moving for me. http://youtu.be/TQKGR7VS7E8 One thing has led to another and re-reading Jon Kabat Zinn on mindful living is changing how I live. It has given me a peace and a freedom that is beyond anything I have ever experienced. If I want to watch birds, I watch birds. When I eat, I eat mindfully and that means you eat a lot lot less. No dieting, just eating and listening to your body. Enjoying each and every mouthful, thinking about where it came from, all the people involved in getting it to you and being filled with gratitude for creation. Even shopping has changed, no more mindlessly wanting, no more shopping without being present in reality, understanding need vs want on a very deep level. At our yard sale last weekend. It was so freeing to sell things that were taking me away from being in the moment so many times in a single day. My goal, to be there for my loved ones, be present in the moment to see that a person that is being less than pleasant is suffering more than I am at that moment and to grasp this profound bit of wisdom from Thich Naht Hanh....
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending.”
Multitasking has been a thief, stealing away from me, the joy of being present in the moment. Each and every moment in our life is fleeting. Gone in an instant, never to be regained. No redo. I will no doubt still chew gum when walking on occasion, and talk while I eat at the table from time to time, but I am living my life in a new kind of freedom that comes with being mindful of where you are at every moment.
Thich Naht Hanh also said, “The amount of happiness that you have depends on the amount of freedom you have in your heart.”