meditationThe other day I was taking a shower and I reached for the soap.  To my surprise, I found I was standing on our patio trying to decide what plants would look good in place of the Russian Sage that our builder planted, which I don’t care for.  No, I wasn’t really standing naked on the patio but I might as well have been because that is where my mind was.  If you’ve ever roamed the self-help aisles at Barnes and Noble … or tried to learn meditation … or followed any of an assortment of online gurus, you’ve heard of Mindfuless.  If you Google it, you will find an endless assortment of definitions and promises of its benefits.  Psychology Today says Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or badMindfuless.com (who, one supposes, should know) says Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.  It is a combination of attention to the present moment and acceptance of whatever is happening in that moment.   And in today’s world of multi-tasking and sensory overload, I think it is a rarity … something that is a contributor to the state of our society these days.

It is something I have sought, largely unsuccessfully, for much of my life because I have what Buddha called the Monkey Mind … as in The mind is like a monkey swinging from tree to tree.    The classic way to learn mindfuless ismonkey through meditation and I’ve certainly tried to become a meditator, starting with Transcendental Meditation way back in the 70’s, then, in no particular order guided meditation, group meditation, walking meditation, meditation seated like a lotus or in the Chi Gong stance.  And indeed, when I stick with it, it calms me, makes my mind less inclined to leap.  But there, too is the rub.  As much as it helps, I don’t stay with it for long and then there I am, back in the shower with my head in the garden.

For me, another solution is required.  I need to do something that captures my mind and keeps it out of the trees.  And so I write, whether stream of consciousness in my journal, long letters to friends, or blog post.   When I write, I am fully present.  Or I listen to music.  Music captures my mind like nothing else and keeps it where my feet are, particularly if I’m walking the trails with the mountains in the distance.   Wandering the river trail, camera in hand, looking of a bit of nature to capture.   Drawing and painting work, too.   Then there’s sitting at my desk with my cat, Tyson, curled up in front of me, luxuriating in my touch.   There is something organic about learning mindfulness from a cat.   He’s sitting watching me as I type, watchful that my mind doesn’t wander.

So welcome to my Saturday morning meditation.  It won’t make me a guru but it contributes to my of peace of mind.  Have a great Independence Day Weekend.

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