The Buddha and the crow sit together
near a council fire, tall and splendid.
Their faces aglow, postures sturdy.
In the charter of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing (OI), ordained members are required to:
Only in the past 4 years, since I’ve been going on extended retreat stays at Deer Park Monastery each January, have I been coming even remotely close to meeting the last requirement of “observing 60 days of mindfulness each year.” Between attending local retreats and days of mindfulness and going to Deer Park I estimate having around 30 or 40 days of what I figure qualifies as a “day of mindfulness.” Up until recently I haven’t given too much thought about this aspect of the OI charter, choosing instead to focus on the spirit of the practice and not get caught in the form of having a certain amount of specific days in which I can refer to as a “day of mindfulness.” But, like everything else, my practice changes. Over the past few months I’ve been brainstorming about ways in which to start implementing a weekly Day of Mindfulness. Of course, applying mindfulness in everyday life is what Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition is all about, but a set aside Day of Mindfulness is an opportunity to “up our game,” as I heard it explained recently by an OI aspirant. It involves more intention, more focused practice energy. Looking deeply, I see now that I used to let myself off the hook in regards to this one, saying to myself: “Mindfulness is the aim of my life, I’m practicing everyday. So every day is a mindfulness day.” And this sentiment is both true and not true, at the same time.
There’s a reason that it’s not outlined in detail about what it means to “observe 60 days of mindfulness each year” – it’s up to each OI member to create and fashion what this looks like for themselves. So, just a couple of days ago I finally landed on a viable option for myself, in regards to working towards the aspiration of devoting one day a week as a Day of Mindfulness. And I started today!
I’m calling my weekly Day of Mindfulness: Mindful Morning Saturdays. I wanted to find a way to weave this day in with the greatest amount of ease and convenience, in order to set myself up for the most long-term possibility of success. I’ve decided that I will utilize Saturday mornings between the hours of 5:00-8:00am for this weekly time of intentional practice. Since I already wake up at 5:00am, and Saturday mornings are a time when both my husband and stepson typically don’t get up until later in the morning, I thought this would serve as an ideal time.
Here’s my Mindful Morning Saturdays schedule that I came up with:
5:00am Wake up
5:00-6:00am Drinking tea and reading various sutras and recitations from our chanting book
6:00-6:30am Sitting meditation, followed by three gratitude prostrations
6:30-7:00am Stick exercises
7:00-7:30am Silent (non-multitasking!) breakfast
7:30-8:00am Watching or listening to a Dharma talk online
End of Mindful Morning
I’ve only just started today but so far so good! I had the most lovely morning :)
This schedule that I came up with works especially well for me because it’s not entirely different than how I start most other Saturdays, so I was able to draw on a routine that I’m already doing and simply extend and broaden it. The fresh additions to my Saturday mornings involve: reading from our chanting book, doing stick exercises, having a silent & non-multitasking breakfast (which I rarely do outside of a retreat setting), and watching/listening to a Dharma talk. I also intend on devoting more concentration on what I’m doing, as I go about my morning. For instance, this morning, I moved slower than I usually do, in order to help develop a more focused practice energy. I offered a deeper attention to what I was doing, whether it was: lifting the tea pot to pour hot water into my cup, raising my tea to take a sip, opening & closing a cupboard door, or filling up the salt shaker (for use at breakfast).
There will be certain Saturdays I will assuredly skip, due to travels, illness, or other plans and events, which is to be expected. But I feel relatively confident that this new practice will be sustainable for me to continue on-goingly. And to help support me in this new endeavor, I plan on posting about my progress – so stay tuned! :)