projects and writings of T.A. Burkholder
This month’s challenge of doing a different mindfulness exercise every day has, in many ways, been the easiest one I’ve done so far. It’s not that I’m so good at being in the now. I’m often thoroughly distracted, mind racing off in dozens of directions, but there is gentleness in this practice, a necessary attitude of acceptance and forgiveness that makes all efforts worthwhile. For example, yesterday my challenge was to focus on aparigraha or non-possesiveness. If my goal was to let go of both the positive and negative and simply allow things to be as they are without clinging to one outcome or another, then there was no chance of failure. If any of the meditations I tried or the attempts to stay focused on the activity at hand (washing the dishes, massaging a client, taking a walk) allowed for the inevitability of my wandering mind, then my stray thoughts were not mistakes.
The lack of a well-defined line between success and failure is a welcome aspect of practicing mindfulness. As the month progresses, I see the accumulative effects. Doing a compassion meditation on my own led me to bring some of those thoughts into my work, silently wishing each of my clients relief from their pain and suffering, wishing them balance and peace. I’ve started doing a brief meditation at the beginning of each work day and I increasingly find myself drawn to the fine details of the present moment. I don’t stay there. I drift. But each minute I spend this way opens the door to the possibility of more. Each minute living in the present shows me that practice does not make perfect. It simply reveals how much more you have to practice.