after spending a day with my mom i always walk away in deep gratitude for the many things i normally take for granted . first, my ability to ‘walk’ away. my mom is wheel chair bound. lately she’s been experiencing intense stiffness, where her weakness is compounded by being so tight, it’s difficult for us to move her from lying to sitting.
the one activity she absolutely loves is painting (no i lie…she loves to eat too, and that’s a great thing!) her strokes are tiny, but her paintings are full on pieces of art. it takes her hours, days, weeks, but she creates painting after painting. this is her purpose. not a day goes by without her sitting at her table to paint.
when she paints, she’s practicing mindfulness. because she’s trapped in a body that can’t walk or talk. she can’t get up and do things when she wants to. she could just lie there all day and let her thoughts dominate her being, but that would probably make her insane.
so she practices her mindfulness by painting. it allows her body to partake in an activity that requires that she concentrate on making one stroke at a time. but in creating that stroke she gets to choose the color. and in choosing the color, she’s experiencing a sense of freedom, an opening of her world, which in reality is slowly becoming smaller and smaller as her disease progresses.
in my practice of mindfulness, my first task is to stop multi-tasking. i am the queen of multi-tasking! for example, i love to brush my teeth with one hand, while tidying up the counter with the other. or i love to walk the dogs while checking my email on my phone (no wonder i miss so many!). and even when i’m relaxing, i love to read a book, while eating.
being mindful begins with doing one task at a time. and it requires that i become conscious of the very act of creating that task. eating is an act that i can so easily take for granted.
instead of reading, or talking while eating. i practice being aware of what it takes to get the food to my mouth, to chew slowly and in appreciation, to carefully and intentionally savor the taste, and then swallow with precision. as i practice doing this single act of eating, i’m practicing staying in the moment and i’m not allowing my thoughts to take me away from the moment. in other words, i’m not making a list of things i have to do, and i’m not thinking about what i should have done yesterday, i’m detaching from the chatter in my head. instead, i’m appreciating every tiny movement that it takes to eat this piece of apple. i’m taking time to nourish my quiet heart.
i’m finding that when i stay mindful, my memory improves. i remember people’s names after meeting them for the first time, something i could never do before because i was always allowing my mind to judge, i was never in the moment.
when i stay mindful, i see that i can have control of my thoughts, that i don’t have to become my thoughts. i practice non-attachment to the drama in my head. which in the end helps me be in more control of my emotions, because my emotions are simply feelings that are attached to a story in my head.
i can experience the feeling of sadness when i see my mom in her condition, but i don’t have to be overwhelmed with emotion when my thoughts take me down the road to the story of her final days. i can detach from that thought, that drama in my mind, pause and appreciate the moment i have with her.