Today between tasks I stood for a moment looking out the window wishing, longing for peace and quiet. But the family needs me. The younger, the older and the in-betweeners. They still need me. I work to keep us housed, fed and educated. No one tells us when we’re young what it will take to raise a family and even if they had, really would we have listened? We meet, fall in love, dream big and dive full force into it all, nothing can stop us when we’re dreaming!
I wouldn’t change what life’s path has brought me. Except, I think I might have saved more so that when I reached 50 I might have had enough money to say, “I’m done working, I’m going to contemplate the nature of the universe.” I didn’t. So now I long for a day of solitude here and there without work or children. The free time I have is gobbled up with my job, school activities, homework, resume work for the older creatures and listening ears for all whenever there’s a need.
As I scan these words, I see opportunity. In the early 90’s I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Peace Is Every Step,” an excellent book about living mindfully in everyday life during everyday activities. Knowing I need continue my role as both parent and breadwinner I resurrected some of my favorites of the very applicable daily practices in his book. Through the month of December, I’ll share a daily mindfulness activity with you. Maybe by New Year’s Day we’ll all have a little more peace in our steps and lives.
My all time favorite practice from the book is “What’s Not Wrong,” which I share a portion of below:
“We often ask, ‘What’s wrong?’ Doing so, we invite painful seeds of sorrow to come up and manifest. We feel suffering, anger and depression and produce more such seeds. We would be much happier if we tried to stay in touch with the healthy, joyful seeds inside of us and around us. We should learn to ask, ‘What’s not wrong?’ and be in touch with that. There are so many elements in the world and within our bodies, feelings, perceptions, and consciousness that are wholesome, refreshing, and healing. If we block ourselves, if we stay in the prison of our sorrow, we will not be in touch with these healing elements…Life is filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby…Awareness of the precious elements of happiness is itself the practice of right mindfulness. Elements like these are within us and all around us. In each second of our lives we can enjoy them.” pp.77-78
So ask yourself, “What’s not wrong?” Appreciate the flocks of birds gathering to fly off for the winter, the laughter of your colleagues over lunch, sunshine on your face, being able to move from one breath to the next without effort. Start your practice today, include it every time you see something wonderful and ask the question again, “What’s not wrong?” I look forward to hearing from you. We are more than this…