The alarm clock sounds and you, puffy-eyed and mildly shocked, roll over to slap the snooze button in a desperate but futile attempt to make the room quiet once again. Rolling back to your warm spot in the bed, you snuggle back under the down comforter and begin to adjust to the shock and chill of the morning. Your eyelids are batting much wider than normal as your eyes try to adjust to the blurry view. After a few calming moments, the inevitable sound of the second alarm stirs you into action and reality kicks in. Turning your alarm off, you now begrudgingly push the covers to one side and sleepily stumble towards the bathroom, slightly chilled and now rubbing your eyes as you let out a really loud and wide yawn. Your day has begun….
With the dawn of your day, most don’t really appreciate the fact that they woken up on this side of the dirt or outside of the urn. We just begin our normal routine. It’s at this moment we need to become mindfully aware. Aware of what you say? Aware that you have to be at work in an hour or that the kids have overslept and will miss their school bus? No…mindfully aware of the gift you have been given….this thing we call life with the power to make choices based on awareness. There are many people on this fine morning that didn’t get to hit the floor running with a chance to make life better for those around them or for themselves. Your awareness is key to living a life that is worth every moment that you have been given on this planet. Becoming mindfully aware of everything takes a lot of time and I, for one, am no where close to mastering this feat. I’m just making it a point to increase my efforts and thus increase the amount of awareness that I have each day. You know, I’m really tired of being angered by the idiots that are driving in front of me or that make stupid decisions as they commute to work. I’m also tired of spurting out some obscenities to them as well. Are they suffering or is it me? I will tell you that indeed it is me. It’s my heart rate that increases and my anger that burns. What I should be is appreciative of these idiots for giving me opportunities to develop more patience or maybe there really are guardian angels and they’re using these idiots to keep me from a pending accident. Whatever it is, whatever causes you to lose focus or awareness, one should use this opportunity to refocus on this thing called life. I think the best advice I’ve ever read on maintaining a mindful awareness would be from a Thai man named Ajahn Chah. He lived in the forests of Thailand and taught around the campfire. On one of these nights, he passed along the following advice to his students. It sums up what mindfulness is all about to me.
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny
- Ajahn Chah
If we look at these five simple sentences and read them over a few times…the wisdom of an old man really shines through for all of us to ponder. What if we just slowed down our lives enough to ponder our thoughts before they become words. This awareness gives us the power to break the chain of the events that cause suffering in our lives. How many times have you said something that you’d love to take back? Being aware of your thoughts before you make them words can reduce a whole lot of suffering in your life. Stopping negative thoughts before they become words and thus actions will prevent us from developing habits and destroying our character. When you do that, you’re building a character that will become your destiny. Think about it, what if all of us were mindfully aware or at least tried to increase those qualities in ourselves. Maybe on the day we falter, someone else will not and thus will give us opportunity to stop the habit nature of our lives. Then we can become mindful of all that we do.
What then? When mindfulness takes over our lives, we make good solid decisions in our lives. We then become the peace we hope to see in this world. We then become truly, mindfully aware. We might really look at the damage we’re causing by our actions. It might be supporting an organization that we don’t really agree with or buying from a store that really doesn’t support our ideals. Maybe we’re eating poorly out of convenience rather than making a healthier lunch or eating responsibly? If we buy out of convenience rather than mindfulness, you’ll see a reduction in those little stores we adore in our hometowns and then the larger corporations taking control of our little towns. Without mindfulness, we become slaves to our actions and those around us rather than being the change we’d like to see in the world. I challenge each of you to take a few moments and become mindfully aware of your thoughts and try to stop the negative ones before they become actions. Be thankful for those around you that cause you angst because they help cultivate patience. Maybe we can truly be aware of those you love and listen like never before. Just imagine what a wonderful place this could be if we were all just a little bit more mindful in our daily lives.
I hope I’ve given you some food for thought today. Now that you know more about mindfulness, you know it is a choice. Now you’ll understand me more, each time I say, “MAKE it a great day”.
Be well and love one another.