When you are walking, walk. And when sitting, sit don’t wobble.— Buddhist saying
Things that stick in the mind
With all the excitement of working on Happy Guide, I could feel myself getting hyped at times, thoughts rushing around, difficulty focusing on other stuff.
This made me put a few previously unconnected ideas together. Many years ago I watched a movie… The Long Kiss Goodnight where Samuel L. Jackson’s character repeated to himself what he was doing as he was doing it!
I’m walking to the fridge, taking out the milk etc. Said it helped him to remember things or something like that…
Very strange and curious I thought… it stuck in my mind that did.
Well, amazing… in The Miracle of Mindfulness, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh tells us to do the same thing…
I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t find the actual quote…
When washing dishes, one should be aware of washing dishes. When [insert action here] one should be aware (or mindful) of [action].
This reminds me also of the Buddhist saying…
When you are walking, walk. And when sitting, sit don’t wobble.
The thing that sets us free is attention. The more power we have over it, the freer we are — or to put it another way, the more choice we have. When we can rest our attention totally “now,” then we are enlightened, so to speak.
According to Eckhart Tolle, there is no end to the depth of “now,” one can always go deeper. So if we can keep our minds on the dishes and we’re aware of thoughts coming in like the proverbial stone thrown into the still lake, then I think we’re making good progress.
Amazingly when we have this calmness, the thoughts which surface in our still minds are exactly the ones we need at that precise moment.
In that state you are the watcher, at a higher level of awareness than ordinary consciousness, where it is the thoughts themselves that control attention.
Mindfulness in everyday life
So, how can we apply this to our everyday lives? By finding a little time every day to practice a simple meditation technique. This is learning to be “the watcher.”
Then in our lives, we can pick certain activities like walking up stairs, showering, washing the pots, where we make a special effort to clear our minds of other stuff and just “do the dishes” or whatever it is, so it becomes a habit.
Pretty soon whenever you do these things you will be reminded to be “mindful” — fully present. Gradually you gain awareness and can increase the number of activities where you are totally “in the moment.”
Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.
Read Chapter 1 “The Happiness Secret”
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