Zen Thing

This morning I saw this posting on Facebook. I liked it so much I re-posted it. And then (here’s a concept for you) I decided to actually TRY it!

I had gotten a late start to my day so I was already feeling behind which is ironic since I work for myself. But old habits die hard, don’t they? One of my teachers has finally convinced me that you cannot break a habit; you can only replace it with a different one, hopefully one that serves you better.

So I decided to break—er—replace my habit of frantic activity that always includes multi-tasking.

The first thing I tried on the list was “Make cleaning and cooking become meditation.” So, instead of turning on music while I cooked breakfast, I decided to simply cook. That incorporated the second thing I tried: “Do one thing at a time.” It was pretty amazing. As I cut up the spinach for my omelet, I was thinking about how grateful I was for the spinach and the knife. I became absorbed in watching the knife slice through the spinach. Then I decided to add onions and basil to the frying pan and thought to myself, “Look at me! Cooking with herbs and spices.” (I only recently became what anyone would define as a cook.) Then I remembered I had gotten the eggs at the local farmers market and was pleased about that.

While all this Zen mindfulness was going on, my Monkey Mind was certainly trying to distract me.  While waiting for the frying pan to heat up, I had to stop myself from checking my emails. Then I had a couple of ideas for a project I was working on and, instead of rushing to write them down, I pulled my mind back to the task at hand.

I applied the same principles to cleaning up the apartment with slightly less successful results but I kept at it. For some reason, being in motion while I was cleaning fed my Monkey Mind. It was almost as if it was saying to me, “You’re moving fast. Yay! Let’s do lots of things at once!” I would have done well to try, “Do it slowly and deliberately.”  Next time.

Instead I tried: “Do it completely.” Usually, when I am straightening up a room, there will come a time when something in the first room must be moved to a second room where it belongs. I then end up working on the second room before completing the first. I’ve always told myself it’s more efficient this way and maybe it is. But it is not nearly as satisfying. A few things done partially does not generate energy the way completing one thing does.

And so it goes. Even as I sit here writing to you, my Monkey Mind wants me to stop and check my emails, play a game on my phone or check my bank balance. It’s amazing to observe.

Here is the important part. I feel noticeably calmer than I usually do at this time of the day. There are more things on the list I am going to put into play but there’s no hurry, is there? I am happy with my infant habits and that is enough for today. And so now I will try the next thing: ”Put space between things.”

I’d love to hear from you about ways you practice these principles. If you experiment with them after reading this, let me know how it goes!