I put together a spring yard sale and today spent from 7:00am-4:00pm at our local mindfulness center selling everything from clothes to books and from vacuum cleaners (of which we had 4!) to toys. With so many different classes that happen at the center and two weekly sanghas we get a lot of stuff donated when we put together these collective mindfulness center yard sales. It’s a great way for folks to donate to the center and for us to earn some extra income (since our center runs almost entirely on donations). And I’m all for anything that helps keep stuff in the reuse, recycle loop.
The weather was slated for rain so I set up a few pop up style canopies to put everything under. I rustled up a few volunteers to help with set up in the morning, sales throughout the day, and the tear down/pack up at the end of the sale around 3:30 this afternoon. Our mindfulness center is situated on an active corner of a nicely frequented road just outside of the university area so all we need to do is start setting stuff up outside and voila, we have ourselves an instant marketplace!
Now, the reason I am bringing up this yard sale on my mindfulness practice blog here is to talk about the effort, demonstration, and sheer awesomeness of cultivating joy and happiness in our daily life. Throughout the day I was aware of the intentional diligent effort that I was putting into the practice of feeling good. And I was also aware of what seemed to be a shared collective practice of perpetuating the art of not feeling good. One of the greatest fruits I have found in cultivating joy is that when surrounded by what could be viewed as negativity, worry, stress, upset or insecurity, I have the ability to stay grounded in my own experience and not get carried away by others emotions.
As mentioned, today was rainy. The mountains sat cool and soggy under beautiful gray bellied clouds and the rain sprinkled on and off gently, dropping at times from the greening leaves onto my glasses, in between outbursts of the spring sun. I enjoyed the rain, the clouds, the sound of splashing puddles as cars drove by. I enjoyed sorting, rummaging through, and displaying all of our wares. I enjoyed talking with people who stopped by on foot, bike, and car. But from some of the comments and questions I received, and at times as I gathered from tones of voice and body language, it did not seem that there were many others who were enjoying the day. It is important to note here that while perceptions can feel very solid and real and true they are in many and most cases incorrect, a fabrication of our own making. So I am aware that while certain individuals may have seemed unhappy my brief interaction with them is but a small drop of awareness in the ocean of their life. What do I know? Nothing!
And at the same time we can all pick up on levels of unease, whatever its cause. It does not take a neuro-pyschologist to see when someone is not feeling well in some capacity. The prolonged absence of a smile, the slumped over shoulders of a standing posture, a short quickened dull tone of voice, or a sullen facial expression are in many cases indicators of un-wellness. And of course there is our verbal exchanges that speak volumes as to our internal weather. Today I heard many comments that were streaked with negativity, about the rain and more. I took notice of how much time people spent worrying and being filled with anxiety about things that were not in their control. How much precious time is wasted, thrown away, and unproductively consumed by self-inflicted suffering. The worries and anxiety I’m referring to are not large scale situations but rather smaller everyday, easy to overlook, and under value type occurrences.
We worry, a lot. We are stressed out and filled with anxiety, a lot. We think and speak in a negative fashion, a lot. Turning towards joy is possible. We need to practice joy everyday so that we get more skilled. So that we are able to handle difficulties with more ease when they arrive. So that we are able to connect fully with life right here in this moment. And so that we are able to water the seeds of joy in others. Mindfulness is a practice to be infused into all of the small pockets of our day.
With this practice we have the opportunity, the ability, and the pleasure of embracing the day with eyes of gratitude, love, and joy. Let us open our eyes to the possibility of feeling good today!