Mindfulness on and off the Cushion

I get out of bed. I’m awake. I can see, hear, touch, taste, smell, so I’m conscious. But I’m not mindful. Mindfulness begins when I take my first drink of water for the day and know that I am drinking the water. I say “Ah.” I’m aware that I’m drinking water. To be mindful I have to be present to what’s going on. I have to have the intention of paying attention.

So, after my drink of water I step into the shower and before long I’m thinking and then I realize I’m thinking and then I say, “Ah, all this lovely water going to waste on just getting clean.” And I turn my mind to soap, washcloth, suds and water.

Finally I’m dressed and my husband and I sit for our meditation. Now things are a little more challenging. Somehow the body moving and the actions taken prior to sitting make being present off the cushion easier than on the cushion for me. But mindfulness on the cushion is just fine when I remember what I realized one day.

What I realized was that meditation was about thinking and coming back from thinking to anchor again with the breath, then watch or follow it, and then keep doing this over and over. I said, “Oh, so this is meditation! It’s not this blissful state of peace and light where I’m all zoned out and floating in a lovely white space.” Perhaps that happens sometimes for some people. For me, some days are more settled and peaceful than others, and yet, whatever happens is just fine.

After our meditation sit there is a ‘meditation hug’ my husband and I do. We hold each other for three breaths, with his arms around me and my arms around him.

Then there’s breakfast and that first sip of coffee which is so, well, ‘coffeeee.’ Mmmm!

After breakfast, in the bathroom, I’m thinking of my body parts and thanking them for their great functioning. “Thank you ureters. Thank you bladder and kidneys.”  “Thank you stomach for receiving and processing. Thank you intestines for processing and distributing. Thank you heart for beating so faithfully.”

This morning mindfulness lays the foundation for my day.

With metta,

Carol Kavanagh