On Mindfulness

On Monday I was cooling down from my morning run, listening to a podcast, when I was almost run over by a car. I was walking (rightfully so) across an intersection where the little flashing white man told me I was permitted to walk, when out of no where came a large truck turning left into my pedestrian crossing. The driver slammed on his brakes just in time to spare my life, then proceeded to pull over and turn his hazards on and wrap his mind around what he almost did.

My experience of the situation so vastly different. You see, I have been hooked on these podcasts lately and they have been opening me up to the world of plant based nutrition, meditation and mindfulness. Mindfulness being the one that saved my life this week. Because as I was walking across that intersection, totally absorbed by the podcast, a thought darted into my mind out of the abyss and my heart told me, someone is going to hit me in this intersection. The thought came, and I paused my walking mid-intersection- milliseconds later in comes speed racer about to mow me down! It was quite a surreal experience.

My auto-response would normally be some sort of offensive hand gesture / verbal assault combo, but something is changing in me and instead I waved a hand of understanding and resumed walking. In a moment where I could have been outraged, I took the opportunity to express gratitude for my mind and body for being aware of each other. Science has now shown that the heart actually determines reality before any other part of the body- which is incredible powerful, IF we tune it.

That is what mindfulness is all about. About being fully present where you with whomever you are there with. We live in a world the values competition and multi-tasking and do do do doing, but look at what is sacrificed. In New York city alone, there were 248 pedestrian deaths last. largely caused by distracted drivers. How different would our world be if we all slowed down and did everything intentionally?

This morning, another run, another freaking awesome podcast because I love them (the Model Health Show, The Rich Roll Podcast- to name a few), and back at the exact same intersection. This time, I am stopped- waiting for the light to flash in my favor. Directly across from me is little old china man who hits the walk button and just starts going for it. What he doesn’t see is a car a block up, bolting down the street heading straight for him. Without thinking, I walk out into the intersection meeting china man half way, and throw up my “halt” traffic symbol ( a raised palm) to the oncoming car. Car stops, I assist china man across the street to safety, and I resume my walk.

How different that interaction might have been if I was not mindful. I could have been distracting by my phone, or stretching. Thankfully, I was tuned in to my heart, and was able to take action from that place of awareness and mindfulness.

My encouragement today is to slow down. To really be where you are. To block any thing that distracts you from being present.

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The Monastic Life

“If you don’t have the ability to celebrate what you have now, nothing you get—and I mean nothing; nothing material, nothing experiential, no amount information, no amount of experience, no amount of material possessions—is going to teach you how to celebrate.”

-WUDE

The monastic life has always intrigued me. I stayed at a monastery for a week in Greece when I was 22. It was one of the most humbling and awakening experiences of my life. I go back there often, in my head. I journey up to those foggy mountains and into the cold wooden chapels. The Observer breathes in all the ritual and reverence hanging in the air. It’s a beautiful place to go, I’ll take you there sometime.

Mia gradated from high school this weekend in Ukiah. It was the first time in years that the entire family was together (and not arguing). The dichotomy of good and bad is a pendulum constantly swinging back and forth in my mind. It is the cause of all suffering. Thinking about the past and labeling it as good, and the present as bad, is like turning off the light on today, robbing it of all it’s beauty. This is the greatest challenge, to remain present in gratitude in all situations. This is what brings peace.

If you are also someone who struggles with judging and labeling events and times in life, my encouragement is to revisit your thinking and make a shift from judgement to awareness. We know this truth, that thinking about the past causes suffering and worrying about the future, anxiety. The path to peace is the be fully present in every moment, to accept every moment for what it is,  not wishing it to be anything else. As the zen buddhist monk WUDE, says, if you can’t appreciate this, what you have today, you will never truly appreciate anything.