Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sundays, Soccer Games, and Mindfulness

In recent months I have found myself thinking more and more about the concept of mindfulness.  It seems to just creep up on me all the time, usually brought on by deep contemplation about my husband and family, and the knowledge of how lucky I am to have them.  They make my life.  They totally make my life.

So I guess it began with feelings of overwhelming gratitude.  I would watch the kids play, or talk with Mr. while he grilled dinner in the back yard, and suddenly I would think:  This is perfect.  I need to remember this.  In every detail.  I need to be aware of it, and appreciate this moment while it's here, and while I'm in it.  I need to be here for it.  Fully.

And I feel like I'm getting better at it.

I make it a point to spend at least a part of every day just sitting in the back yard, being.  Sometimes I will watch the baby run around and play.  Sometimes I will watch the rain drip off the tin roof of the porch.  And sometimes I will watch Michael walk around and pull weeds and talk about what needs to be done with the lawn, and where he wants to plant this or that.

It is at least one part of my day, every day, that I can hold in my hand and feel like I truly experienced.

And I think it's important.

. . .

This morning, as we are waiting to hear whether or not Padawan's final soccer game is going to get rained out, I decide to take a book  and go out onto the porch for a bit.

. . . and I find myself completely out of book.

(It is not a place that I ever like to be.)

"I am out of book!!!!!", I shout, to no one in particular.

(It was just that alarming.)

This situation is due to the fact that I recently finished the fourth book in the Game of Thrones series, and am now anxiously awaiting the time when I can get to the bookstore to purchase the thrilling conclusion.  (Can't find it in the stores around here.)  I also just finished the second book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.  It is technically in the Young Adult category, and for a second I felt a little guilty about enjoying a kids book. . . but then I remember that Harry Potter and The Hobbit are considered kids books, too.  (This made me feel a great deal better.)  So now all I have to do is wait until October 22nd, which is the day that the third book comes out. 

The next Odd Thomas book doesn't come out until next year.

. . .I am going to be doing a LOT of waiting on books.

. . .And if I should end up dying before all of these books come out, and thus NEVER get to find out how the stories end. . . I am just going to be SO mad.  (Probably how all angry spirits start out.)

As a matter of fact, this is probably how I will one day know when I am ready for death:  Absolutely no involvement with a literary series whatsoever.  All existing story lines resolved.

. . . So where was I??

Yes.  I was out of book.

But I am not the kind of person that just walks out onto a back porch on a rainy Sunday WITHOUT a book.  (Please do not EVER mistake me for THAT person.)  So I rummaged around in one of our (overflowing) magazine racks, and came away with Zen Keys by Thich Nhat Hanh.  It is a book that I purchased at 2nd and Charles a while back, and haven't really gotten too deeply into yet.

*****Sidenote:  THIS IS WHY WE PURCHASE BOOKS LIKE THIS, MICHAEL.  For this EXACT situation.  THIS is the reason that we should ALWAYS have unread volumes on our bookcases, and why we should ALWAYS purchase books when they are reasonably priced.  It is a rainy Sunday INVESTMENT.*****

Many years ago I read a different book by Thich Nhat Hanh called Peace Is Every Step, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  In a nutshell, it talks about how peace is not something we wish for, it is something we do.  It talks about different ways to walk around your life, being peace.  . . .it might sound a little flaky.  But I found it to be well-written and enlightening.  It's a slim book, and a quick read, so if you're looking for something in this genre. . . I recommend it.


 So I took the still-fairly-new book outside, opened to a page at random, and began to read.

(I don't normally do this, but it is integral to the story line, and so I am going to share a couple of passages here.)

"We see into our own nature by bringing light to each act of our existence, living in a way that mindfulness is present all the time.  When walking past the cypress tree in the courtyard, we really see it.  If we do not see the cypress in our own garden, how can we expect to see into our own true nature?

When we believe something to be the absolute truth and cling to it, we cannot be open to new ideas.  Even if truth itself is knocking at our door, we will not let it in.  The student must strive to be free of attachments to knowledge and be open so that truth may enter.  The teacher once said:  "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha."  For the one who has only devotion, this declaration is terribly confusing.  But its effect depends on the mentality and capacity of the one who hears.  If the student is strong, she will have the capacity to liberate herself from all authority and realize ultimate reality in herself.  Truth is not a concept.  If we cling to our concepts, we lose reality.  This is why it is necessary to "kill" our concepts so that reality can reveal itself.  To kill the Buddha is the only way to see the Buddha.  Any concept we have of the Buddha can impede us from seeing the Buddha in person."


As you can see, I'm clearly trying to convert everyone that is reading this to Buddhism.


But I thought it was an interesting passage.

I will be thinking on it today.

I will walk around being peace, and reminding myself to see the cypress in my own back yard.

(***This is a lie.  We do not have a cypress.  We have a blossoming pear.  We have heard that they have invasive roots, and can really wreck a yard.  We are hoping that this proves to be untrue.  It is causing Michael a mild amount of stress.)

And so continues the tight-rope walk that is my life:

Making a point to see the blossoming pear outside our kitchen window.

And making a point to ignore all the toys, cars, and assorted nerf weapons that litter our kitchen floor.

I'm grateful for every giggle, even if it means that every once in a while, someone might pee on my leg in the process.  (see below)

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