Lately, I have not been very mindful. I haven’t been meditating as I should. Backsliding is a very easy thing to do. There are many, many things that can interfere with healthy mindful thinking. I have been busy lately with work, freelancing, appointments, and hobbies. While these don’t stop me from being mindful, they are crowding my thoughts and distracting me from the blue sky and just breathing.
We can be mindful anywhere. All we have to do is pause to breathe and notice that breathing. However, the trick is to remember to pause. Even as I write this I have a dozen different things I need to do jostling for my attention. It is quite difficult to remember to be mindful. Luckily with practice it slowly becomes a habit, but that also leaves the danger of growing lax in practice as I have grown lax these last several weeks. It is truly tough to pause.
When I think of it, all the things I “must” do really don’t need to be done at all. There is nothing I “must” do. All I have is this present moment in time. It is quite easy to fall into living for the future. All the musts, needs, got tos, and have tos are living in the future. They are promises and obligations we may not be able to keep. All distract us from living now.
Have you ever turned on music while working and don’t even remember the songs that played? Daily life is much like that. We have so many inputs coming in at once that we lose track of them. We can only focus on one task at a time; multitasking is an illusion. The more we try to do, the less we absorb and accomplish. It only prevents us from being mindful of now.
Meditation can be done anywhere at any time, but it is certainly hard to remember that! Time to time we need to step back and clear our mental desks. What truly matters – this moment I am alive – gets lost in all the paperwork of the day. At times like this, when I am loaded down with too many “need tos” I step back and clear my desk. Today, for example, I am still working on my freelancing projects but not for the entire day. Today I am writing this blog, but then I plan on reading something more than a magazine for the first time in about 2 months. I plan on painting and writing this evening. While this sounds like I didn’t clear my desk, I decided to take my day off to take a day off and revisit some neglected friends. All the need to’s don’t need to be done today.
It’s a matter of balance. Sitting and meditating all day certainly would be beneficial, but work needs to be done. We have to eat, after all. Working all day is also beneficial, but our need to cultivate our compassion is far more important than earning money. Take time to clear your desk today too. Revisit a friend you haven’t seen in long while whether that friend is a person or a hobby or a favorite book. Clear enough space so you can remember to breathe.
The only time we have is now. Guard a quiet segment for yourself jealously.