A life dedicated to service...

Week 14: Just this

With all this focus on dying, preparing for death, ways of ending, contemplating our last breath . . . we may need a reminder that we’re alive in this moment. So is your pet, neighbour, family, coworker, and spring flowers. Whether we like what’s going on around us or wish it were different somehow, there’s little that can be done right now. Welcome everything.

♥  To stop living on automatic pilot involves slowing down and giving monkey mind a rest. No special techniques are needed, no monastic robe or years of practice. “Just this,” the ancients advise, “everything else is added on.”

  Try this, “As many times a day as you are able, give the mind a short rest. For the duration of three breaths ask the inner voices to be silent. It’s like turning off the inner radio or TV for a few minutes. Then open all your senses and just be aware — of color, sound, touch, and smell.” *

  Or this. Wherever you are, down tools and see what’s quite literally in front of you. Don’t search for anything special, simply welcome what’s there. Any colours that draw your attention? Shapes? Contrasts? Movements? Take your time — three minutes at least. When the mind gets distracted or bored, return to seeing.

  When you go out today or leave your work place, notice and resist the urge to check your phone or set the earplugs. Slow your walk a little, step more deliberately. Taste the air and see who else is coming and going. Each a separate being, each with their life stories, worries and joys. Open your heart of compassion just a little wider — for them and for yourself.

Repeat as needed.

* Jan Chozen Bays. "How to train a wild elephant & other adventures in mindfulness." Shambhala, 2011, p. 76.
About the Author
Peter lives in Victoria, BC, where he volunteers in health-care. teaches mindfulness meditation, and offers end-of-life care.

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