Monday, April 23, 2012

Mindful Living Monday (#mlmon): 23 April 2012

If this is the first time you've heard of Mindful Living Monday, you'll want to visit the #mlmon page on Mindful Living Guide. The page includes: 1) a brief introduction to the Mindful Living Monday online community, 2) two super-easy (email address only) subscription forms so that you're automatically kept abreast of all things #mlmon, and 3) information on how to get the embed code for the new #mlmon badge for your own blog or website.

Today's Mindful Living Monday tip is inspired by the following passage from Carol K. Anthony's The Philosophy of the I Ching:
The student of the Sage [the I Ching] learns to refuse the programs offered by our habitually planning mind (the ego and the inferiors) and to keep his mind open and unstructured. He turns his attention to the needs of the moment, and to the problems upon which he can actually have some impact. This attitude is freed of the doubt implied in looking ahead with dread, whereby we barricade ourselves against what might happen, and in looking aside, whereby we enviously compare our situation with others, and in looking behind, to measure our progress. These sorts of fearful, doubtful looking are regarded as nourishing ourselves on inferior food.
This short excerpt, from a book recently loaned to me by a longtime writing student and friend, is chockablock with wisdom, and could, thus, elicit much in the way of commentary, examples and what not. But, given that Mufidah's and my departure from our flat Behind the Blue Door, from Lewes, and from England for our Continental travels is scheduled for exactly three weeks from today, I'd like to hone in on the "looking ahead" part of what Anthony discusses, above.

While we've completed countless tasks this past week (looking behind), there's so much, yet, which needs doing. And one thing which is very much present in both of our minds is the decision of how much money — which, like time, is limited — to invest into our 1998 Fiat Punto.

Over the weekend, we've had a mechanic (and separately, in discussion yesterday, a mechanical engineeer who was once responsible for keeping a whole fleet of fire engines and such in tip-top condition) assess what might need doing, over and above the couple things which definitely need doing in order to renew our MOT such that we leave the UK with a fresh twelve months ahead.

And, so, there's a pull into the future, into considerations of events which may or may not come to pass, and which not even the mechanic (nor the mechanical engineer) can know.

Will a particular part (that passed the MOT test) fall apart while on our travels, which would have been far less expensive to preemptively replace than to deal with the potential consequences of not having had the work done? Or do we get all the suggested work done as a means to "barricade ourselves against what might happen" only to find we've sunk another £460 into a car for which I paid £150 two-and-a-half years ago but which might fail in some other unforeseen way, and which, at best, will remain a less-than-ideal righthand-drive car puttering about lefthand-drive countries?

This is the stuff of looking ahead. And one notices the more one spins one's mind upon such considerations, the more the future can become a source of dread rather than inspiration. Further, that dread can also consume huge amounts of energy which could be put to better use in doing things which presently need doing.

Today's #mlmon tip ...

Take yourself off to a quiet place, without distractions, and bring your awareness to your physical body as a means to ground yourself in the present (refer to the 26 March #mlmon tip for additional details), and observe within yourself ways in which your present moment experience might be obfuscated, or muddied, by considerations of the future.

The future (and the past, as well as comparisons of ourselves with others, or with ourselves in earlier times) is often a source of fear. What fears stemming from considerations of the future might be holding you back?

Spend a few minutes today allowing yourself to feel any fears which might bubble up into your present moment when you consider the future. Neither fuel the fears nor try to get rid of them. Simply bring a gentle, uncomplicated awareness to the fears. Listen to them. What stories do they have to tell?

Consider putting pen to paper as a means to acknowledge these fears, to air them out, rather than to let them fester or stultify within. And see if, by allowing them to speak, you can begin to transcend the fears, either through consciously letting go of false, or insubstantial, notions which no longer serve, or by taking some small action which can help to pull us out of a state of stasis and into the realm of doing, where fears tend not to dwell but, rather, disperse as if magically of their own accord.

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Let's get the conversation flowing in the comments below. Tell us about your experience of putting today's tip into practice. What fears are holding you back? What challenges are you facing? And how are you overcoming these? You're also welcome, if you like, to post any pieces of writing which emanate from today's tip.

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  1. In my part of the world, the lilac bushes are blossoming.

    Today, I stopped to say hello to one and lifted my head up to smell a violet blossom, shivering in the cold bluster of spring.

    The smell reminded me of a childhood in Vermont, where lilac trees grow like, well, grass in England, or green moss on the north side of trees.

    For just a moment, I was free from my worries, my projections, the deep sense of uneasiness that resided within me this morning.

    I breathed it in, and I let the scent become my consciousness. For just a moment. And I let my brain register that smell for the days to come when the lilacs once again fall asleep ... or my mind returns to its restfulness.

  2. Thank you, Don, for sharing your Mindful Living Monday experience with us, as well as your lovely way of putting it into words.

    We're fortunate to have you come this way once or twice a week, and to share your reflections here on MLG. Thank you, sir.

    With warm regards,