Mindful in the Morning
I mentioned in passing at the beginning of the year that I’d started using a new daily reader as part of my Morning Practice. More exactly, I should own up and say my Most Mornings Practice. Like many of the books that have had a significant effect on me, it was a random selection from a bookshelf full of similar books, this time at a Barnes and Noble in Arizona. That’s one of the reasons I still visit real bookstores … that sort synchronicity doesn’t seem to happen on Amazon. The book is The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Live by Mark Nepo. Yes, it’s about mindfulness, something my monkey mind (it swings from thought to thought, don’t you know) does not give into easily, which is why I study it frequently. Sometimes I wonder – when I study mindfulness, am I being mindful or am I looking ahead to the time when I will be?
Mark Nepo taught poetry and philosophy for over thirty years, including eight years at the State University of New York at Albany. In 1987, he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, and it’s his survival from the disease that drives his message of mindfulness and the acceptance of our lives as they are. As it says on his website, Three Intentions, He does not discount our flaws, our failings, our human weaknesses. On the contrary, his great tenderness for our imperfections is precisely what makes his readers feel so held—both in our human capacity and in our interconnectedness with one another. His breakthrough as an author came when he was featured by Oprah Winfrey in 2010 on her Ultimate Favorite Things show. The Book of Awakening has become my favorite morning read, not just for Nepo’s message but because of the poetic prose in which he frames it.
In the January 20 reading, Being Easily Pleased, he says: The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that God is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting beneath the skin of all that is ordinary. Light is both in the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe. Yes, God is under the porch as well as on top of the mountain, and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers, if we are willing to be where we are.
Has mindfulness ever been better expressed? It’s enough to make a monkey-mind stop swinging for a few minutes.