Christmas days at my parents’ – and all things are relatively quiet and good. Which of course leads to thoughts about things that are usually shelved or forgotten.
So, yes, even though a lot of time is spent with Jay and my mother and father, there is also time (at least in my mind and at late hours) for more of that empowering and yet immensely difficult exercise of reviewing my past promises to myself and how I am doing with them.
Let’s take the example of increased focus (in fact – as I want it to be – primary focus) on cultivating a better experience of life for myself regardless of outer circumstances or events …
Thus, in early April last year I wrote:
Just thinking, talking and acting slower – much slower – than I usually do. This is how to do it.
This is how to get that quality – that presence – that mindfulness – call it what you want.
This is to get what I longed for, but didn’t know that I longed for until I felt really, really empty inside for months on end… And I have.
So thinking slower – just that. It is a key to experience more, well, mindfulness. But more practically, it is key to experience more calm. And that indefinable quality I will call ‘depth’ – in my experience of everything that is going on.
It is important – depth. It is probably just another word for “mindfulness”.
What I mean is that you can be in the most wonderful situation – say, at a party – and be distracted by your phone, your worries or whatever. Or you can be in a very mundane situation – say, on the bus and suddenly feel very at ease and attentive to all things, and see much beauty where before there was none (like I reminded myself yesterday, with a little help).
Some weeks later, I added to this conclusion:
Paying more and more attention to all of these Ways I actually know that make me feel whole and uplifted and peaceful, even in difficult situations, is also a way to help other people feel more uplifted and feel more connected to themselves and the world …
But even though I am doing a reasonable job trying to shape my feelings about all of these life experiences in a more positive and constructive direction (without succumbing to unrealistic or ludicrous perspectives), I still feel it is not enough.
I could do better. I could create a larger and sunnier ‘kingdom of the soul’.
So that is what I am going to do. For the rest of my life.
I think it is by far the best and most worthwhile thing to do, because it will frame all other experiences. And then to share it, and pass on the knowledge of how to do it – here on The Blog.
But also use The Blog to help myself stay on track. For despite all my wisdom and experience I am all too human and I stray again and again.
I waste a lot of time thinking in negatives, doing routines, being with the same old people, when I should be moving on and using more of what I know to do and feel better.
I want to renew my vow to myself about making it my key priority to have a better life experience, regardless of circumstances – some of which I can control, others not so much.
That makes it imperative that I prioritize this type of mindfulness that comes from, well, slower thinking.
I also find that it is easier for me, as I have recounted before, to experience my thoughts especially as something I can only (and somewhat inadequately) describe as:
a scene with Patrick Steward in a Shakespeare-play reciting something profound.
(from 137. Kingdom of the Soul)
Second, I want to reaffirm my dedication to use the full arsenal of my experience to change, well, my experiences so they become more deep, more beautiful, more empowering … or just better.
Instead of letting my mind run on autopilot and think negatively, in dis-empowering ways or just fill itself with junk instead of focusing my precious spare time on something truly valuable.
I’ll start with a very concrete ‘external’ situation, which has been dogging me for the whole year (and for years before that) – namely that about money. Or lack thereof.
I’m not saying I can live without money. But I can live better without worrying so much about money. And I think I know how if only I make the choice.