The Lesser Cousin Of MindfulnessPosted: February 2, 2012
I’ve discovered that in the journey to happiness, mindfulness is the light that illuminates the road.
Mindfulness is essentially a Buddhist practice. It means staying in the moment and being mindfully conscious of what’s taking place in your thoughts, body, emotions and surroundings while maintaining a sense of calm.
Sounds like a deliciously peaceful idea but let me tell you it’s a DAMN hard thing to put into practice!
I haven’t managed to ‘stay in the now’ despite reading and re-reading one of the best books on the topic – The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
In his book, Tolle encourages readers to savour the moment – even if you’re just washing the dishes or hanging clothes out to dry – without thinking of the future or the past. No grasping for something that you want to happen and no replaying what happened before. Just taking pleasure in the water over your hands as you get your dishes clean or inhaling the fresh scent of clean clothes as you hang them up to dry. This sounds wonderful and even doable but I’ve perhaps managed it for say half a second at any given time! My ‘monkey mind’ as the Buddhists call it swings from one branch of thought to another with no regard for my efforts.
For instance, I’ll catch the scent of clean clothes and think ‘how lovely’. Before I can stop myself, the next thought would be ‘we need to get more detergent coz we’re running out’ followed by ‘what else needs to get on the shopping list? Are we out of eggs? Better go and check’ and on and on and on.
I almost gave up trying mindfulness altogether when I realized that I might be setting a standard that’s way to high for my monkey mind. These days, I’m attempting to get to the lesser cousin of mindfulness – staying aware of my thoughts. I’m at least conscious of my monkey mind and how it leaps from thought to thought. I’m less ‘attached’ to it’s antics and the thoughts that come into my head.
That’s why I was able to feel some sense of calm this morning, despite waking up on the wrong side of the bed. I didn’t snap at The Engineer even though I felt like it when I couldn’t find a book I was looking for. I was glad that I held my tongue because it turned out that it wasn’t he who had misplaced it, it was me!
If I hadn’t been aware of my thoughts that were going in many different directions and Lizard Liz going ‘it’s his fault – blame him!’, I’d have probably started an argument and then felt guilty about it for the whole day. This way, I’m still not in the best of moods but at least I’m free of the additional burden of unnecessary irritation and guilt.
I may not be deliriously happy today but I feel rather calm – and I’ll take that for now!
meditation pic credit http://www.livingwithtolle.com