A friend who radiates with a special kind of beauty both inside and out gave me a book on mindfulness ("Wherever You Go There You Are", by Jon Kabat-Zinn).
As someone who inhales sharply at the first glimpse of blue mountains over the rise of the hill, or ribbons of pink in the evening sky, I pride myself on being mindful. But like everyone I know, I find the idea of "non doing", even when I have the opportunity to indulge, an alien and anxiety-inducing concept. And I am "mindful" of the times my anxious mind has prevented me from sleeping, even a wink; a year ago, after a sunny morning flight to Halifax, I awoke to find myself on a gurney en route to the hospital after a seizure in the airport, my mind, at least momentarily, having seemingly exploded. So, perhaps there might be something for me in this book.
At first, my restless mind flits about -- lighting on, celebrating and then rejecting several key passages, all at once. Then certain segments float to the surface, asserting themselves.
I am reminded that Henry David Thoreau's Walden experience was, above all else, a personal exercise in mindfulness.
I pause at the quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, which once again seems to signal the benefits of "going inside": "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." And I am struck by the serendipity of reading this just as I have been reflecting on the nature of home; it would seem, from this passage, that home is here, wherever we are, in each moment.
I reject the idea of non-attachment, and feel what could only be described as pride at my passionate attachments: to the people I love, to values I hold dear, to the work I love, to this big, beautiful world, to life itself. But the idea of finding a few moments of stillness in each day, of observing, of being both fully aware and intentional, resonates deeply.
This exhortation, by author Jon Kabat Zinn is most resonant of all: "Can we be in touch with our own life unfolding? Can we rise to the occasion of our own humanity? Can we take on the challenges we meet, even seeking them out to test ourselves, to grow, to act in a principled way, to be true to ourselves, to find our own way and ultimately not only have it, but, more importantly, live it?.....The beauty of meditative work is that it keeps us on the path, even in the darkest of moments.....It is a guide to human development, a roadmap to our radiant selves...."
So this is my ode to mindfulness: Here's to rising to the occasion of our own humanity, to taking on the challenges we face, as best we can, and really living; to being fully aware of the beauty of each passing moment, of our radiant selves, and of the friends who send books our way, just as we need to read them.