Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mindfulness

I have been reading a book called "The Power of Kindness." I picked it up on a whim at South Station during a Fire Drill in our building at work. Instead of hanging with the rest of the evacuees at a big post office parking lot, I walked the opposite way to South Station and ended up at the little book store. And the title caught my eye.

It is written by a transpersonal psychologist and examines the concept of kindness. That although it is simple, it is made up of a whole host of other concepts such as honesty, forgiveness, belonging and mindfulness. There are more but that is as far as I have read.

Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept. It is about being present. It is what the practice of meditation trains you to do, be in the here and now, without worrying about the past, worrying about the future, thinking of all the shoulda-coulda-woulda's, or what-if's, and the if-then-else statements that crowd our brains and bleeds into our hearts and souls on a daily basis. All of which then causes is to "not really live."

In my efforts to transform personally, I've been trying to practice mindfulness. And what is Mindfulness? This is an excerpt from the book explaining one of the Buddha's discourses:
"In what you see, let there be only the seeing.
In what you hear, let there be only the hearing."
Do you know how hard this is? Every sound, every sight brings to the forefront of our minds all of our preconceived notions which are based upon on our past experiences and future expectations, which are then are based upon those past experiences. As a result, we never really "live" in the present, we don't take in things as they ARE; instead, we conclude and divine our futures, what we believe they will be or should be based upon our past. and as a result, we are never in the present. We just live in our pasts and our make-believe futures. I know. It's hard. Brain twisters. But that is the point of meditative questions. To put your brain into such a tizzy that all it can do is become relaxed and release it's preconceived ideas.

I have been trying to do this for the last two weeks. It has been so hard and seemed impossible at the beginning. But I also discovered that no matter how much energy I used, it is hard to act and think based on what I do not know; I have found that it is easier to act based upon what DO I know. And what I know is based on what I feel. And what I feel is based on what I know of my surroundings. I cannot control my environment or those around me. But I can be aware NOW about my environment and those around me. And thus I can control how I feel and how I act within the environment that I know it to be. And forget controlling anyone else.

It is getting easier as time goes on but "easy" is relative. Sometimes, it was VERY hard. And I haven't even scratched the surface. But I have noticed some changes about myself. I no longer have road rage. Really. I am not cursing and yelling at every Tom Dick and Harry that cuts me off, stops short, doesn't use a blinker, drives too slow, etc. I am just accepting because I am HERE. And I cannot control it. But I can control how I feel and how I react.

I am noticing more. The other day I took the dog for a walk. And I walked by a house that I have walked by a hundred times. Ok. Maybe 50 times. But I have walked by it A Lot! And in front, along the fence is what I have nicknamed The Burning Bush. It has tiny little serrated-edge leaves that hang down. The tips and edges are crimson. And it is travels up the leaves and toward the stem, it goes from redish tinted, to orange, to gold to yellow. Every single leaf is almost identical. And I saw them in relief against the back drop of white fence and yellow house. It was amazing and one I will not forget soon.

I am also trying to "unplug." Instead of sitting with a computer on my lap or chatting with friends on my blackberry while at home, I am present. I am sitting and, for the first time, REALLY noticing other people in the room, how "plugged in" they are, and how partially present they can be.

As a result, I am also enjoying my time with JJ. Enjoying ALL of him. His presence within my presence. Because that is how children are. They are mindful, nothing beyond this moment. And that is JJ. When he tells me he loves me, I believe him because that is how he feels NOW. I am spending time seeing what he is seeing and I am amazed at his wonder of all the things around him. I am listening to all the things that he is saying and I am amazed at his intelligence, reasoning, and yes, sometimes he godawful stubborness. But that is who he is. And I am taking it all in.

I am also contemplating all the years in which I was not present for my Hunny Bunny or my friends. I am sad about this and I have started reaching out to a few. I see this as al-anon in a way, this path to regaining and transforming my sense of self. And the discovery of the person that has been buried under years of detritus, rubble from the battle of life.

Mindfulness is not easy, especially for someone like me, who has always been driven by the fears from her past, toward the promise of something better in the future. Not realizing that the better future is here. Now. TODAY.

Mindfulness is also exhausting. New sights and sounds assail my senses. And it cannot process them fast enough. It's as if I have a small basket and the world, the present, is throwing things at me. I am trying to catch them in my small basket but I am not fast enough to catch everything, and my basket is too small. And the processing.... what is this feeling that I feel? What is this pain? What is this melancholy for what I have been missing? But the yellows are yellower and the oranges are beyond vibrant. I am seeing things as they are. For the first time, I am seeing beauty and I can feel it in my heart instead of cataloging it in my brain.

How long can I keep this up? I think that question can be answered only after I have completed my journey. But the journey is never really complete, is it? In this moment, in this present, I think I can for a long time to come. For the skeptics out there, time will tell.


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