My meditation teacher used to say to me, “It can be a lot easier to move the body than to sit with our minds.”
The practice of mindfulness is much, much deeper than noticing you’re hungry or choosing a reusable bottle instead of a disposable one. Those are nice things, but mindfulness requires us to pay attention to our moments in a way we probably have not before.
Mindfulness needs wisdom and discernment. I say often the earth needs our deep attention. By paying attention deeply, by attending to our moments without our stories, reactions, and judgments - we reshape our habits and reactions to things. It’s not easy, it’s actually hard. Luckily, it doesn’t take anything outside of yourself, it just takes the moment you are in right now. However, that moment looks.
Mindfulness isn’t a glamorous thing. It’s raw and messy. It’s seeing our sadness, loneliness, happiness, grief, contentment, frustration, and everything in between just as it is. There’s a lot more to all this, but to truly attend to the moments we are in right now we have to first turn the mirror on ourselves and that’s not always something that we want to do.
Mindfulness is easy to say, but I’ve realized it’s much harder to implement. It’s not simply noticing something. It’s a combination of deep listening, concentration, and quietness in our being. It’s being able to see yourself in others. It’s empathy mixed with suffering, mixed with curiosity and joy. It’s witnessing with our wisdom and compassion. Go outside. Look out your window. Notice. Listen. Watch. Feel. If you’re distracted by something else, just go back to what you were noticing even if you get distracted over and over. Distractions are an important part of a practice.
Looking through my camera’s viewfinder for me is analogous to looking through my own life’s window.
Just as I have a certain idea about how I want my photo to turn out, I also have a certain idea of how I want my days to be. I have to make adjustments to the dials, make sure my lens is dust free, and perhaps get into positions that are awkward so I can press the shutter. I have to listen, observe, pause, and often become silent to truly witness and attend to the moment.
At times, in haste, I’ll react to quickly, convinced I know what I’m doing and forego all the above for a blurry photo.
In life, we can also grip too tightly to our own narratives. Navigating with a dusty lens convinced our way of seeing things and relating to things is correct. With this grip, we end up closing ourselves off from growth and from hearing what’s being said from others. Developing and maintaining wisdom and discernment is vital.
Nothing in life is easy. Life requires our attentiveness, hard work, and action. Life is messy and uncomfortable and rarely looks like a bouquet of free-flowing positivity. We might find beauty in this madness but will not find perfection. My photo comes out based on the work I put into it.
Let these challenging times in the world give us even more reason to reshape our attention and attitudes towards ourselves, each other, and all sentient beings. The conditions we are given, positive or negative, are designed to be tools to challenge us and change us. To help us build what has crumbled and what has been ignored.
We can use what is around us, however meager we might think it is, to reshape our perspectives and to give us the foundation to learn more about who we are in relation to the world.
Radical remodeling. I’ve seen this already in all of you who choose to share, create, inspire, listen, and act. This work to reshape our world is not easy, if it was we would not learn the deeper lessons of being alive.
Andrea Sanders | @BeZeroWasteGirl