Day 3: Find something to laugh and smile about. That was easy when with two nephews under the age of 1 that day! Don’t want to publicly post photos, but take my word for it, they’re adorable and fun(ny). Especially when one realizes he can touch the other one and goes for the eyes. And the other one sits still and lets him.
Day 4: Meditate. Need I say, I got this one covered? That day the sky cleared and the air was warm enough for me to sit outside. So I meditated with back soaking sun, letting my weight rest into the grassy earth, becoming aware of a crow couple in cherry tree limbs, birdsong and voices of passersby, my body relaxing, my mind just being.
UNLOCKING A SOFTNESS
Even after many years, many of us continue to practice harshly. We practice with guilt, as if we’re going to be excommunicated if we don’t do it right. We practice so we won’t be ashamed of ourselves and with fear that someone will discover what a “bad” meditator we really are. The old joke is that a Buddhist is someone who is either meditating or feeling guilty about not meditating. There’s not much joy in that.
Maybe the most important teaching is to lighten up and relax. It’s such a huge help in working with our crazy mixed-up minds to remember that what we’re doing is unlocking a softness that is in us and letting it spread. We’re letting it blur the sharp corners of self-criticism and complaint.
Day 5: Positively reminisce. Focus on a positive experience from the past in great detail allowing yourself to feel emotions wash over you for as long as possible. “Research suggests this creates powerful positive emotions that then assist us in the present to build an even better future.”
This one was an eye opener for me. I’d always learned keeping the mind’s attention too much in the past can be detrimental. Especially as one gets older and experiences more disappointments, more traumatic events, more sense of “where the hell am I?” and “who the hell am I?” as we look at our own hands and see outward signs of aging.
I could have focused on positive adulthood memories, but my mind immediately went to positive childhood experiences, so I stayed with what came up and each had a message for me.
- Times with my grandmother. Common theme in all was a sense of being truly seen. Seen as my truest self, highest self, inner self.
- Botany class with Native teacher in high school. I walked about 6 miles each day roundtrip across a desert mesa next to a freeway for high school, and I never saw what was around me until her class. True revelation and favorite homework ever in history of homework to identify and preserve over 70 species of desert plants. She taught me how to see tremendous variety and life force where other people saw only dry landscape. Great metaphor and training for Life.
- Walking several miles to elementary and middle school a few days a week with my dad from about 3rd through 8th grade. His place of work was on the way to my schools. What I remember most about these times was his patience when I had asthma on cold winter days. His empathy from his own asthma, willingness to stop, coach me to breathe, even risking being late to work. And his patient listening to me about whatever I was rambling on about.