I had set aside last Sunday as a personal day of mindfulness but I wound up feeling under the weather so I rescheduled for today. All week I kept this day free of plans and to-do lists. It felt strange to set up a day of mindfulness on a Thursday instead of a weekend day, when allowing myself the space to slow down feels more natural and acceptable. Although I don’t have a full time job I still consider Monday through Friday to be work days and I use them as such. It was a good opportunity to step into those feelings of discomfort and claim this big Thursday work day as a day of practice.
To me, a personal day of mindfulness means slowing down, practicing to offer my full attention to everything that I’m doing while I’m doing it, and quieting down – for a whole day. It’s a day of gratitude and intention. A day of turning off the external chatter of my music and computer – not checking email or making phone calls. A day to practice enjoying each step and each breath. A day of coming back home to myself in the present moment, over and over again, with love and gentleness.
I began my day by watching a dharma talk given by Thay during the recent Deer Park retreat in CA (to check out his talks go to: http://tnhaudio.org/). Here are some of the notes I took while listening (the words in bold are what stood out to me personally during the talk):
The Buddha encouraged his monks to practice solitude, but this didn’t mean to drop out of society and disengage. One monk misunderstood the teaching and did everything by himself. He went on alms rounds by himself, sat by himself, ate by himself, and walked by himself. When the other monks told the Buddha of this the Buddha then gave the teaching of The Better Way to Live Alone. To live alone means to not have a second person in you. Maybe that second person is the object of your craving or desire. To live alone is to be completely satisfied with the here and now – you are not looking for anything else. You understand that happiness and joy are present in the here and now. Even if you go to the mountain alone but you are still searching or longing for something you are not alone.