Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day #20 of 30 Days to a Simpler Life --- Be Mindful, Savor Time

Today, practice living in the present---not in fast forward or reverse.  Do one mundane job with your full attention.  When you pay attention in your daily life, whatever you do becomes transformed.  Step 1.  Sit still for a few minutes before beginning the next activity on your To Do list.  Focus on your breathing.  When you feel calm, centered, and grounded, turn your attention to your task.  Next, walk slowly to the site of your task.  Step 2.  Now do the job slowly and deliberately.  Perform this act as if it were your last.  Step 3.  When mental and physical distraction arise, remind yourself to refocus.  If the interruption is about something you must do later---such as calling the plumber---write it down and return to your chore.  (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 131)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Sign up for a week-long retreat that requires you to be silent.  A week of silence will be one of the most renewing weeks of your life.  (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 135)

The idea of mindful living really appeals to me.  Some of my favorite quotes about mindfulness come from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.  Here are a few of his gems to ponder---

On washing dishes...
While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance this might seem a little silly: why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that's precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I'm being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There's no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves. (pp.3-4, 1976)
There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first way is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second way is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.(p.4)
If while we are washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as they were a nuisance, then we are not 'washing the dishes to wash to wash the dishes.' What's more we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes....If we can't washes the dishes, chances are we won't  be able to drink our tea either. (pp.4-5)
On driving the car...
Before starting the car,
I know where I am going.
The car and I are one.
If the car goes fast, I go fast. (1992, p.31)
On eating tangerines...
One day, I offered a number of children a basket filled with tangerines. The basket was passed around, and each child took one tangerine and put it in his or her palm. We each looked at our tangerine, and the children were invited to meditate on its origins. They saw not only their tangerine, but also its mother, the tangerine tree. With some guidance, they began to visualize the blossoms in the sunshine and the rain. They they saw petals falling down and the tiny green fruit appear. After seeing this, each child was invited to peel the tangerine slowly, noticing the mist and the fragrance of the tangerine, and then bring it up to his or her mouth and have a mindful bite, in full awareness of the texture and taste of the fruit and the juice coming out. We ate slowly like that.
Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, it's wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy. (1992, pp.21-22).
Thich Nhat Hanh (1976). The Miracle of Mindfulness (trans: Moby Ho). Boston: Beacon Press.
Thich Nhat Hanh (1992). Peace is Every Step. Bantam Books.

I'm going to try to get my tasks done mindfully today, which is definitely easier said than done.

Now about yesterday's task of finding a spot to put stuff that you need for when you run errands.  I just can't decide what to do about that.  Before I would have put it all on the kitchen counter, but now that I'm trying to keep that clean I don't know what to do.  We don't really have a foyer so there's no table at the front door or anything like that.  I guess for right now I'm going to put a bag in the office and hope that I can remember to use it.  I think having a catch all bag or bin for errands is an amazing idea.  I just can't figure out how to implement it and keep it out of the way.  Suggestions?

And for your amusement, here's my favorite quote of late.  When Tina Fey was interviewed for In Style about who is her boss, she said, "Kids are definitely the boss of you.  Anyone who will barge into the room while you are on the commode is the boss of you.  And when you explain to them the you're on the commode and that they should leave but they don't?  That's a high level boss." kids are definitely on their way up the corporate ladder already.

1 comment:

Harvest Moon by Hand said...

I had some challenges with this activity. It's hard to stay focused on mundane tasks, I found. It's so easy to let one's mind wander and think about other pressing issues, what needs to get done, etc. Here's what I experienced when trying this activity: