Friday, 16 November 2012

Mindfulness and "ordinary" life

Meditating every day for a certain length of time can be difficult if your regular routine is disrupted, for good or less good reasons. Recently I left Mundi Mansions with the Long-Suffering One for a short break, which we filled with lots of visiting. "Hold everything for 45 minutes please whilst I meditate" is still possible, I guess, but not an appealing offer.

So I thought I'd use the holiday time to work on the border between structured meditation and "ordinary" life. (Ain't no such thing - perhaps "usual life" would be better.)

Throughout the Isles of Britain people are exclaiming delightedly about the autumn colours this year, and the length of time it is all lingering. So an autumn stroll was obviously a prime time to let go, look at these leaves here and now, and simply be, in silence except for shuffling feet. Even for three minutes, it felt good. And even I can shut up for three minutes without anyone starting the search for a pulse.

The almost flat, grey, empty North Seascape was also ideal. An early morning stroll whilst the LSO got ready for the day was a good opportunity to take five just watching the horizon. I think the knack of it is not to contemplate the beauty, but just to be in it, and do the usual focusing on the breath, feeling the ground against the feet, moving the thoughts to any sounds as they occur, returning the attention to the present - all as usual, but a different here and now, especially a beautiful one, seems to help. And it was followed by a particularly good breakfast.

Who likes slow traffic, who likes driving long distances on our motorways? I found just a minute or two on a motorway services bridge surprisingly useful for a short burst of the old here and nowness. And it was surprisingly beautiful, too. The knack seemed to be - to let it be itself, and to let me be a part of it. Not a generic scene "typical M6, busy evening" but this in front of me, now. Of course, watching steady traffic is hypnotic; that sort of hypnotic (I don't mean Arkayeff's hypnotic!) can work against being in the present, but for a couple of minutes, it was fine. A different sort of refreshment from the thing I'd just about managed to eat at the other end of the bridge...

These short moments, these pauses and stillnesses, don't work for me in the same way or at the same depth as a lengthy, structured meditation does, but they are invaluable. 

"What time does the meditation class begin?"
"It's always happening."

Now that's a state of being,  worth not striving for but simply becoming. One day. Even on the M6.

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