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Category Archives: Everyday Practice

Mindful Morning Saturday

I awoke just before 4:30am and turned on my Mighty Bright book light made in China, patents pending, and slid out from under a mismatched set of sheets, one fashioned from organic cotton made in India and the other I got from the Goodwill, who’s tag I was unable to locate while groping around in the dark trying not to disturb my sleeping husband.

After reciting my daily morning verse: Waking up, my smile greets a brand new day, I padded into the bathroom where I proceeded to use recycled toilet paper, glide on some Tom’s of Maine unscented deodorant, made in the USA, wash my face with 85% organic ingredient soap “made with care in Missoula, Montana,” and run a brush through my hair that I bought in Paris upon realizing that I had managed to hop across the pond without a detangling stick. A brush, I might add, that must’ve been made outside of China, due to its lack of stamped mention of a country of origin.

I then found myself in the kitchen turning on the electric tea kettle, made in China and sporting the words “Do not immerse in water” in five different languages engraved on the bottom, and readying my morning gunpowder green tea, which I order online and has Chinese writing emblazoned on the packaging. And I sip said tea slowly from my most favorite hand-crafted clay mug made by my friend Drew (see pic above), as I ease into the day.

And the day will proceed onward in this fashion – I will use and encounter an endless array of items and products, from both near and far flung places. My day-to-day activities will be due to an endless sea of people having created, fashioned, and made possible my way of living.

What most struck me this morning, as I was fine tuning my attention to my routine, was how much the presence of water factors into my day – and how often I take it for granted. In operation of the toilet, washing my face and hands, preparing tea, boiling eggs for breakfast, filling the cats water bowl, washing dishes, drinking, showering… Being able to turn a handle and have clean water dispensed is a miracle of convenience I don’t think enough about.

So, today, among other things, I celebrate water :)

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Everyday Practice

 

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Discomfort Practice

The more we attempt to regulate our environment to suit our preferences, the less resilient we become in managing fluctuations when they occur. This week: practice weathering (and perhaps eventually embracing) small discomforts by doing such things as:

  • not putting on the AC in your car when running a short errand around town
  • eating a meal without being on your phone/laptop/TV
  • foregoing your favorite morning beverage for one day
  • doing something you’ve been putting off because you don’t feel like doing it
  • eating something that you tend to generally avoid
  • listening to a song you would otherwise thumbs down on Pandora
  • doing something nice for a co-worker who you don’t particularly like
  • voluntarily standing in the longest check-out line at the market
  • walking much slower than your normal pace when going a short distance from one place to another
  • not falling asleep with the TV on for one weekend
  • intentionally leaving the house without your phone for a whole day (or 1/2 a day – or even 1 hour!)
  • not using your phone to kill small increments of time (when stopped at a red light, waiting in line, in-between errands or bites of food…)

We’re becoming a culture unable to forge strong, intelligent relationships with our own selves – so quick are we to run, distract, intoxicate, ignore, and fight against even the slightest of uncomfortable situations. If we are incapable of managing the small stuff, how will we be able to sort through the big stuff, like dealing with grief and loss, handling stress, or going through emotional/physical/political/societal upheaval?

Valuable practice: Start small so you can work big.

 

 
 

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Texting/Email Etiquette

The lack of texting/email etiquette is increasingly becoming a pet peeve of mine. I’m referring to the absence of friendly greetings and basic civility that would otherwise accompany a live in-person conversation but is routinely side-stepped altogether when it comes to people pecking away at their smartphones or laptops. At the risk of sounding terribly old fashioned, when did we become so boorish? I have a few friends that don’t even take the time to type out Hi or Hello, they just launch directly into whatever it is they have to say, without so much as a polite salutation or proper good-bye.

Since texting and emailing are some of the most common ways we communicate with one another, I think it’s worth investing time creating some kind of mindfulness-based practice around these methods of electronic connection. Here are some ideas:

Ways to infuse mindfulness into our texting/emailing routine

  • When beginning a new conversation strain, start with a greeting, such as: hi, hiya, hi there, hello, sup, good morning, top of the day…something to indicate that you’re not a caveman who’s totally unfamiliar with the subtleties of being kind and polite.
  • Tune into whether you’re feeling rushed when texting/emailing someone. So often we’re caught up in rapid-fire responding, fingers or thumbs ablaze. We can ask ourselves: Do I really need to be moving this ferociously?
  • Be attentive to your tone of voice when typing. It takes more time and will require more focused awareness than perhaps you’re used to, but how we communicate is perhaps the most important element in determining the quality of our relationships. Take the extra time to ensure that what you’re typing is coming across in a friendly manner. Remember: tone of voice comes across differently through our electronic gadgets. We have to enfold extra time and concentration into making sure we’re coming across well, since people cannot see our body language or hear our actual tone of voice when communicating.
  • Sign off in a manner that doesn’t make it seem like you’re just droppin the mic and walking off-stage. So many people that I receive texts or emails from don’t take the time to offer a short closing, they just stop typing and press send. It’s as though they were suddenly abducted by aliens and were unable to formally say good-bye before getting beamed aboard.
  • Read what you write before sending it off into the electronic ether. Don’t just skim for quirky auto-correct mistakes, read it for content and tone of voice.
  • A :) goes a very long way. Never underestimate the power of a well chosen opportunity to put a :) into your text or email.

Happy texting/emailing everyone :)

P.S I’d love hearing your own experiences with electronic forms of communication, please comment below if you feel so inclined!

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in Everyday Practice

 

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Inspiration

A few self-created images I thought I’d share :) Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Time

Last week I turned 38 years old. On the eve of my birthday, a sangha friend passed away. Alison Matthews, age 63.

63 is an age generally considered to be on the younger side of someone passing away. 63 is not old age. I am continually reminded about the preciousness of life, especially in the wake of others who have passed on. Earlier today, I was visiting with a hospice patient. During our weekly visits, I’ve taken to bringing a newspaper with me and reading aloud the news. As I was reading the Today In History section I came across this: In 1937, American composer and pianist George Gershwin died at a Los Angeles hospital of a brain tumor; he was 38.

One never knows when our time will expire. So often, we live as though we have a limitless supply of time. In reading world news and local obituaries, however, I routinely come across people who’ve died at all ages and stages in their life. For me, this serves as an important reminder: there’s no guarantee that we will see old age. And that applies to myself, as well as my beloved family and friends.

Being in touch with death and dying keeps me in close contact with my gratitude for life. Volunteering with hospice affords me the opportunity to train in the art of living life well, with however much time I have. And I am deeply touched and nourished by all of the patients I have the honor and privilege to meet with, who serve as my teachers in this regard.

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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in Everyday Practice

 

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Fireworks

I think part of why I love to watch fireworks is that they can express how I feel about life in a way in which I am unable. The overall sentiment being:

What a miraculous vibrant spectacle this one precious life is!

 

 

 
 

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Observations On the Road

In lieu of a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve been coming up with a new mindfulness practice for myself at the start of each calendar year. Last year I partook in what I called Bumper Sticker Practice, where I paid special attention to bumper stickers while driving around town and jotted down the ones I found particularly interesting/funny/odd/strange/beguiling. I so enjoyed having a mindfulness exercise to do while driving that I decided that my new practice for this year would also involve something I could do while on the road. Even though I wasn’t quite sure what it would entail, I landed on: Observations On the Road. It involves my jotting down either an outer observation, or an inner observation prompted by something I see directly around me, while either driving around town, stopped at a red light, or otherwise hanging out in my car for some reason (such as waiting to pick my stepson up from school or waiting in line at the drive-up teller at the bank).

Last year, with the Bumper Sticker Practice, I wrote a blog post in June, documenting the stickers I’d come across in the first half of the year. Now I’m back to do the same with this one!

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