Friday, June 03, 2011

Ramblings In My Mind Volume VIII

Even the most positive and optimistic people can sometimes feel down about life. Daily life, especially as the days turn into years, is challenging. Some days it feels overwhelming and stressful. It can seem like something is always going wrong. With all of this how does one maintain a zest for living? I really think the solution is to maintain an attitude of mindfulness where you are awake and present to the moment. While you live in the moment be open to the wonder of it. We all want to have fun and be free to do what we want when we want but the reality of adulthood is that we will have responsibilities and obligations that make demands on us. Work is a reality for all of us. Taking care of our families is another reality. Both can seem like drudgery at times. However, for those who are awake there is a mystery and a beauty within the ordinary and mundane. There is always more to life than meets the eye. There are deeper realities that are only perceived in moments of contemplation and wonder. Sometimes you have to just stop and be still for a while. Once in a while you have to breathe, connect with the bigger universe, and ask yourself the words of the Chinese philosopher, Lin Chi, “What, at this moment, is lacking”? Sometimes life seems empty but most moments are not.

I have a rug in my “man cave” that moves about one foot a week. I put it where it’s supposed to be and by the end of the week it’s not there anymore. I can’t actually see it move but I know it does. Recently my wife bought me some kind of pad to put under the run that is supposed to keep it in place. It has certainly slowed it down but it still creeps along. Time is like this rug. On a day to day basis it doesn’t seem to move and sometimes it appears to stand completely still. However, the seconds turn into minutes, the minutes into hours, the hours into days, the days into years, and the years into a lifetime. One day you are 30 years old and the next day you are 60 years old. You don’t always notice the progress and movement but seemingly all of a sudden the rug of your life has moved. You can do things that make you feel you are slowing it down but it is still moving. Too often people focus on destinations but as the Buddhists say, “The journey is the destination”. Notice the movement, feel the motion, and enjoy the journey of life. Don’t just think about where you want to be. Think about where you are and be there.

Let’s be honest. Most days are ordinary and even a little boring. They may be very busy but not necessarily exciting. This is why I always try to have something to look forward to doing. At this moment I have already planned some additional days off and yesterday I confirmed a weekend reservation at the monastery for late August. I also have a concert in Cincinnati that I hope to attend. Of course, summer also gives us some long weekends and after we get through the dog days of summer we launch into the end of the year holiday season. I will also probably go to Gatlinburg again soon because my granddaughter is asking my wife and I when we’re going to “The Burg”. What the princess wants, the princess gets. It doesn’t take much to get me excited. Today I am thrilled because I am leaving work at 3:00 PM. It’s only an hour earlier than normal but in my mind I am already gone.

Yesterday I took a work related on-line course on wellness. The idea to promote wellness rather than focus on sickness is a good one. I have long believed in a holistic approach to life. Such an approach is all about finding balance. We are complex beings. We have our bodies as vehicles through this life. Like a car or any other mode of transportation they must be maintained to run efficiently. However, we are more than our bodies. There is also an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspect to our total lives. All of these things, along with our bodies, must be in harmony with one another. When one of these elements is out of whack, our total harmony is disrupted, and we are out of balance. True wellness is found in harmony and balance. Of course all of these elements are affected by many things. We need love and a sense of belonging. We need to feel safe and reasonably secure. We need our lives to have a sense of purpose and meaning. All of this is why I have long encouraged people to be awake to life and to not simply go through the motions. Wellness does not simply fall out of the sky. It must be an attitude developed through intentional and authentic living.

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