The Facebook Comment that Completely Changed My Mindfulness Practice

By Beth O'Hara - May 2015

A recent event gave me pause – and scared me. As I was about to apply my dog’s monthly flea and tick medication, I noticed the black fur between her shoulder blades (where I always apply the medication) had the white residue this medication leaves. Had I already given it to her? When? I had no memory of this! I dug through a gloppy mess of chicken bones and other assorted unpleasantness in the trash can, only to find the empty tube that confirmed I had indeed given her the medication. Where was my attention, that I didn’t remember this act? What if I hadn’t noticed her fur and overdosed her by giving it to her a second time?

I have a regular practice of being mindful throughout my day, so this was disappointing to say the least, not to mention quite disconcerting. And I’ve been noticing lately there seems to be something missing in my mindfulness practice, or perhaps more accurately, something is present that blocks some of my experience. When I’m unloading the dishwasher, I look for ways to finish the task as efficiently as possible to move on to something I prefer doing. I rush through chopping vegetables, cooking dinner, and cleaning up, because there is always more work to do.   It seems I’m aware of what I’m doing, yet also not fully wanting to be where I am. I’m often not enjoying the experience. Is this really mindfulness? Am I fully present in those times?

I find myself procrastinating as well. I procrastinated organizing my overstuffed and chaotic closets for the last two years because it seems boring and somewhat overwhelming to go through all the stuff. When I finally did clean out my office closet, I was amazed at how much calmer and more focused I felt when working in that room. I commented on Facebook about these insights, and many others also commented that it makes a big difference to them as well.

And then this comment changed my whole mindset about mindfulness:

“We are so busy busy busy and taking time to organize/clean up/rearrange is a time for me to slow     down and take a moment to love my surroundings. Taking time to make the bed in the morning, pull back the curtains, clean all the surfaces....if I’m doing it mindfully, it becomes a nurturing activity for myself and for my environment.”  - Julie Lessard

Reading this stopped me in my tracks. Am I loving my surroundings? Am I entering each moment of work as a nurturing activity?  The quality of her words brought tears to my eyes, and I wanted to engage in my life in this way she described.

I’m usually the most present when I’m with my dog – so what happened there?? I was probably in a hurry, rushing to complete the illusory mountain of “everything” I create in my mind. When I’m doing the dishes, I’ve been paying attention with my mind and my body, yet my heart has been missing. I haven’t been doing the dishes with my whole self, with all three centers aligned.

So I made myself a promise. As much as I can remember, I will do every act with Love. Not with sentimental love, but with the Love of full Presence with my whole being.

In working with this new practice, I found I was mowing the grass and getting very tired. The more I thought about being tired, the more tired I became - so tired I just wanted to stop, with only half of the yard done, and go inside. Then I remembered Julie’s words and my promise to myself, and I started pushing the mower with all my mind, body, and heart - with Love. Amazingly, energy flowed into my body. I could feel my whole self. There was still a quality of tired, but a good tired, and the energy not only came to finish the task but also to clean up some fallen leaves and even water the garden. Where did that energy come from?

I’m now driving with Love, lovingly steering my car between the lines on the road. Of course, then something happens like someone veers into my lane and I become scared and lose the experience of Love. I’m finding if I can just stay with the fear, and release it as David Hawkins writes about in Letting Go, I can invite it to shift to anger (hey – watch out!), then courage (having courage to continue driving and courage to continue feeling my feelings), then willingness (willing to return to a state of Love) and eventually back to Love again.

The hardest part is always remembering to practice. I found myself today procrastinating when I needed to write this article by busying myself with minor things, and realized I was avoiding feelings of inadequacy as a writer and overwhelm about how to get these thoughts down coherently and succinctly. Then I finally paused and remembered, I just have to write with Love. And the words came.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below! How do you practice mindfulness? What helps you remember to return to Presence? Do you notice a difference when you do things with just one center (mind, heart, or body) and when you do them with all three centers together? Please share your experiences!

Beth O’Hara is a Health and Wellness Coach, Senior Faculty in the School of Conscious Living, Certified Enneagram Teacher and Trainer, and a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. You can contact her directly here.

 

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