While washing and drying two large kale plants that were as big as mini-umbrellas, I found myself hurrying through the task. This is going to take forever. What was I thinking when I asked my husband to pick up a couple of kale plants at the local market this morning?
That’s when it hit me. In my haste to finish this job I was not in the moment. I was wishing for this to be over so that I could go for my morning walk.
I have been practicing staying in the Now or mindfulness for some time now…and I also encourage my friends to practice, and I blog about acceptance…well, to the extreme! (My husband’s eyes hurt from all the rolling! Ha!)
But it was in this moment that I realized that in my rushing to finish my task, I was clearly not accepting my Now. I was not accepting the kale!
So I became still and allowed my mind to let go of the thoughts and I began to pay attention to what my body and my emotions were doing. I was tense; my back ached from standing in front of the kitchen sink; my neck and shoulders were tight; and I could feel that my forehead and brow were creased. I’m tense over kale? Really?
I was feeling… what was I feeling? Anxious? Not really. But I could tell that I did not feel relaxed and content. I was hurrying and that always makes me feel stressed.
So I began to accept that I did not really want to be in the kitchen and that I had a deep wish to just throw out the kale and run for my coat and shoes. I just accepted that I did not accept my task.
That thought made me laugh. My poor kale. All those farmers who grow our produce and sell it at the local market – how fortunate are we here in Canada? The kale deserves better.
I could feel all my tension leave my body and I began to pay attention to the task at hand. I began to focus on the green, curly leaves of the kale; the thick stalks; its’ health benefits; the vitamins that it adds to our morning smoothies; the clear water in the stainless steel bowl; how easily the water flows from the tap; how little my husband paid for the kale ($2.00 a bunch) in spite of the amount of work that the farmer invested to grow this produce.
And I began to feel gratitude for kale, and for my health, and for my life.
As I placed the bags filled with kale into the freezer, I was grateful that I remembered to be in the Now. And that I had accepted the kale.
I have learned over the past few years that when I pay attention to the moment, I am more balanced and content. Mindfulness opens me up and allows me to see love and beauty in all that surrounds me; mindfulness opens me up and in my self-awareness, I see the love and beauty within me.
When we become still and recognize the changes in our body – changes that have arisen in our body because of emotions – we can begin to accept ourselves, no matter what we are feeling. But this practice always begins with the intent or the awareness.
When we need mindfulness the most, that is, when we are hurting or suffering, we usually cut off our feelings. Instead, we allow our thoughts of suffering and pain to take over. If we could just become still or pause just for a few moments, we would allow ourselves to consciously become aware of what is happening within our bodies. Many call this the sacred pause.
This practice enables us to firstly, become aware of our bodies and our emotions; secondly, to accept these emotions. When we accept our emotions – all of them – we allow a space within to feel compassion.
Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not “yours,” not personal. They are conditions of the human mind. They come and go. Nothing that comes and goes is you… Eckhart Tolle
Of course, this takes practice. But the more I practice mindfulness (and paying attention to my emotions and how my body is reacting to those emotions), the more I am releasing old thoughts. And I am finding that I am slowly learning how to let go of judgment of myself (and others).
Eckhart Tolle in The New Earth writes that we can live mindfully when we treat each moment as if this moment …was our purpose in life.
I love that thought. Think about it. When we stop and embrace each moment as if the person we were with was our true purpose in life; well, just think how much our attention on them grows. We have the capacity in that moment to really connect with that person – to ensure we treat her with kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. We would deeply listen to her words and give her our full attention. We would look her in the eyes and allow understanding to enter into our moment. And compassion would follow. I have learned that compassion always enters the encounter when I listen deeply.
If we treated each moment as if it was our true purpose in life, we would give our full attention (and energy) to our career, our volunteer work, our families, our friends, our health; well, to everything, each day. Our daily walks, talking to our children, having a coffee with friends, walking into the bosses’ office…each moment could be transformed from the mundane to the profound.
At the very least, our co-workers or family members might raise an eyebrow and wonder aloud, “What the heck is she on? Whatever it is…I want some of it, too!”
Mother Teresa said it more eloquently than I…
God does not ask that we do great things. But that we can do small things with great love.
I confess that I have been trying this suggestion of Tolle’s for some time now, and I am convinced that it increases my mindfulness and awareness. And, yes, it increases my connections and relationships, too. But the practice also has dramatically decreased…my desire to hurry through this moment so that I can be in another moment that is better. And that’s a huge awareness for me, my friends! So you might say that I have slowed down.
Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last…Simon and Garfunkel’s lyrics from Feelin’ Groovy
So, when I find myself wishing that I wasn’t washing kale, that instead, I was outside walking, I pause.
I remind myself (as Tolle suggested) that in this very moment washing the kale is my purpose in life. And that gives me great insight. And joy.