I was planning to write a post today about holiday gift-giving and how we're all under so much pressure to buy presents that we forget what it's like to be generous. Except on Saturday I started to feel pain around my right eye. I thought it was probably from grinding my teeth (I have TMJ) but by Sunday afternoon the pain had increased and redness appeared underneath my bottom eyelid.
The Buddha said that if you practice lovingkindness, or metta, meditation, you will experience scores of benefits (well, 11 specific ones). His list did not mention that you will have a better time at parties. Add that.
As a child who grew up in a one-tv household, without cable, banned from watching MTV at friends' houses, and now a parent running a family without cable and with minimal screen-time, the introduction of a gaming device into our home felt as though decades of negative-perception-baggage were plunked down into our family room, and onto the laps of our salivating children.
I used to make the joke that my husband talked me into having children. I’ve since stopped, realizing it was not that much of a joke, nor was it terribly funny. Having children wasn’t something I dreamed about nor longed to do. In fact, I used to try to talk my husband out of it. Now it’s something I study passionately – I’ll even throw down a Brene “wholeheartedly” here – both for my and my family’s well-being, and for my work.
I used to dread grocery shopping. Even thinking about it made me want to run screaming. The fluorescent lights, the cold grey surfaces, and the utilitarian feel of the activity. I hated that I hated it, and hated that I couldn’t seem to feel any other way about it.
I’ve often heard people say that we eat mindlessly. This isn’t quite accurate, though. Actually, while we eat, we spend most of our time daydreaming. This daydreaming is a form of hypnosis.
Under hypnosis you can become so focused on the contents of your mind that you lose awareness of the external environment. You can even lose awareness of your body. When we’re eating, we maintain just enough awareness of our body and environment to get the food into our mouth, and to get an initial taste of it. But then we go off into fantasies of various kinds.
Watching my son sail off into the sunset on his skateboard, I am reminded of not only his first introduction to the art of shredding but also prompted to look deeper at the way in which I approach fear.
When you go on a retreat, there's always a talk near the end about transitioning back to "the real world." You've been in a place where people are mindful and intentional, less stressed by the details of daily life. You're about to re-enter the rat race, and you're not up to speed.
But what if life could be more like retreat? What if people in ordinary life were mindful -- present and attentive and grounded in the situation ... how would life be different?