There’s two sides to JC.
On the one side, there’s the JC that’s cool, calm and collected. And on the other side, there’s the JC that acts out of ego and fear.
You guessed it…
One thing that has become painfully clear to me over the last three plus years of meditating is that it’s easy to be mindful when we’re sitting and doing our formal practice, but it’s not so easy to be mindful when we are living our normal everyday lives.
So then, I suppose the million dollar question here is how can we incorporate mindfulness away from our formal practice and into the real world?
What the hell is water?
It’s funny how life reminds you of important lessons precisely when you need them most. A few days ago, per the recommendation of my therapist, I listened to a beautiful commencement speech by David Foster Wallace called “This is Water.”
This might be one of the most beautiful speeches or parables I’ve ever heard so if you haven’t heard it already, click here to listen…
In it, David Wallace reminds the soon-to-be graduates that life is not so much about what you do, but rather, how you choose to think.
In his commencement, David argues that without observing the state of one’s mind we will simply float through life aimlessly and without a sense of purpose.
As David puts it, part of becoming an adult is learning how to think and learning how to create your own destiny, especially in those moments that seems banal and mundane.
For it is in those boring every day adult moments that we have the power to choose how we experience life.
According to Mr. Wallace, this is where true knowledge plays out– not in the life changing moments that are fetishized by movies but rather in our everyday experiences like going to the store or getting stuck in traffic.
In these seemingly minuscule moments we create the foundation for the rest of our lives and without conscious observation of our mind, we run the risk of living a life full of suffering.
Below is a brief excerpt of Mr. Wallaces speech:
“By way of example, let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there’s no food at home. You haven’t had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket…”
“…And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop.”
–David Foster Wallace “This is Water”
Checking off your to-do list
As you can see, the moments that annoy us most often also offer us the opportunity for the most transformation.
After reading David’s speech, I’ve learned that these daily errands provide me with an opportunity to be more present while I move from one activity to the next.
Whether that’s waiting in line at the grocery store, filling out a 10 page application to get
temporary work permits in Canada or applying for jobs, I can infuse mindfulness into these activities and thus, make them more tolerable and perhaps even enjoyable…
I’m not a super hero here and you can do the same!
All it takes is a choice.
The choice to be awake during those boring hours. The choice to choose presence over anxiety. The choice to be where you are and not want to be anywhere else.
So with that, I invite to you to take a moment to be where you are the next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store or when your kids are screaming in the backseat of the car.
Instead of thinking about what you have to do next, what happened at work, when your kids will stop screaming, or anything else, try and see if you can focus on your breath and the external stimulus around you.
You may notice an instant sense of ease and relaxation as opposed to the anxiety and agitation that pervades many of our daily lives.
The great thing about mindfulness is that you can take it with you, so I implore you to incorporate mindfulness into your life, away from your formal practice.
After all, we practice mindfulness to be mindful throughout the day, not just when we’re on the cushion…
These small moments of mindfulness can make a bigger impact than you think, so give it a try!
Shoot us a comment and tell us your story of mindfulness in uncommon places!!! We would absolutely love to hear it!
Thank you as always up for reading! We appreciate all of you who choose to read these blogs and for being stewards of mindfulness in our community.