Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chipping Away: the daily grind

      Everyone loves a "mountain top experience". A moment when God feels as close as our heartbeat and we sense our own goodness and love. Everyone loves a milestone moment, cheering runners as they approach the finish line, ohhhing and ahhhing as an artist unveils a magnificent painting.
But who really wants to talk about the hours spent on our knees that possibly led to that mountain top experience? Who would be interested in discussing each individual step of the marathon or stroke of the painting? Well, probably not many.These mundane "chipping away" experiences where we inch towards a result are the story equivalent of a snooze button; wake me up when we get there!
But the problem is that if we only get engaged and excited about the beginning and the end of an experience we spend most of us life unengaged and unexcited.

     Life is the mundane middles, the repetitive experience is the thread in the tapestry of our lives picture. The mountaintops are few and far between and yet we breathlessly await our mountaintops and barely notice our mundane. Imagine a beautiful pearl necklace with a sparkling diamond pendant hanging in the middle. Almost everyones eyes will be drawn to the diamond barely registering the lustrous pearls reflecting back light to us. But without the pearls there would be no necklace. The pearls are our moments strung together to create a life. The diamond perhaps the birth of your child, the achievement of a handstand or another rare moment.. The point is we will have many pearls and few diamonds in our lives so it would behoove us to pay a little attention to the pearls. Becoming really present as you wash the dishes yet again is so much more enriching than the natural excitement of a trip to Disneyworld.

     Our lives become richer still as we awaken to the mundane. Is this the thousandth time you have made a PB&J sandwich for lunch? Well, can it be the first time you really noticed making it perhaps directing a little loving energy into the project soothing your nervous system as you spread the sweet jelly?  Maybe the sandwich will taste better and maybe not, the result should not be the goal. But rather the awakening to the experience. I haven't written a blog in awhile because I have been "chipping away". Hundreds of handstand hops and days of repetitious floor mopping and flier hanging do not make a compelling story. However the gradual awakening to the mundane is adding layers of sweetness to my life. Here's my story, "we'll I did the dishes a thousand times and then last night I was really present doing them. I noticed the suds and my feet on the floor and the breath in my lungs as I scrubbed". Yea, this story is compelling to no one but me. But there is a point!
 And that point is mindfulness is cumulative and the only places that we can accumulate enough practice to awaken are in our daily mundane business. Yesterday after a nice class a student said with a deep sigh "if I could only hold on to this feeling". Well, clearly he can't spend all day at Quiet practicing yoga,  but what he can do is meditate as he sweeps his floor, count his blessings as he drives to work, do deep breathing as he waits in yet another long line. It is the mundane and the daily grind that are the true stories of our growth and lives. Being bored is simply not being awake to your life.
So, nothing to report here really. I just have to go fold some laundry and pay attention.

This is the day the Lord has made, I will we rejoice and be glad in it (even if it is only a Tuesday!)