If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without.
- Eckhart Tolle
I call this a wake-up call, a nudge from the universe telling us there is more than just the surface. It’s a message to go start digging, start digging deep within yourself and find some kind of meaning. Except you dig deep everywhere that’s not within. You go on a splurgey shopping trip. You buy yourself a car. You redecorate. Or you go on an expensive holiday. Then you start to realise that none of these are what you’re looking for.
You start reading up books on spirituality, join a chanting group, take part in meditation retreats and start looking for a guru. You even start fantasizing about throwing in the day-job and take-off on a trip to India to find yourself.
But really that’s just another form of running away. If you’re like me, the kids still need to be fed and watered, and the bills still need to be paid. There’s a whole set of agreements we signed onto which we can’t just drop…raising kids, for example. There’s a whole set of responsibilities we, as our higher selves, agreed to take on as part of our time here on this planet. Our intent now is to see if we can find life’s meaning while we navigate the day-to-day.
Cool! Now that we know what we’re looking for, how do we find it? Also know that the meaning of life is different for each of us.
One way to do this is to start noticing the moments. Start with the quiet ones. So turn off the tv, the music and the iphone. Sit quietly and just be aware of how you feel.
Let the rush that fills every waking moment take a pause and allow a sense of space to enter. When you do any activity, try to give yourself fully into it as much as possible. And I mean only allow the present moment into your mind and your body. Don’t think of yesterday or what you’ll be doing after. Become so deeply aware of the present moment that all else fades away to nothing.
- When you’re washing your hands, be aware of how the water feels against your skin. Bring your awareness to the skin on your fingers. Is it cold or warm? Is it tingling? Feel the texture of the handtowel. Is it rough? Is it smooth?
- When you’re walking outside on a sunny day, walk a bit slower than usual, be aware of the ground under your feet with each step you take. How do the soles of your feet feel when its on the ground? When its in the air? Now bring your awareness to the feel of the sun on the top of your forehead. Is it hot? Is it warm? Bring your attention to the skin on your forehead. How does it feel?
- When you’re preparing dinner tonight, feel the weight of the knife you’re using. Notice the texture of the handle of the knife in your hand. Notice the colours, the shapes of the vegetables, the way the light falls and cast shadows. Be aware of the smell and taste. Prepare the meal with care.
If you’re busy, which we all are, pick one everyday activity to practice and decide to bring all of your awareness to it each time. It could be something as ordinary as brushing your teeth or changing your clothes. Find small ways to slow down a little and nurture the practice of bringing your full attention, mind and body, to one or two of your daily activities. Just do these a little slower, maybe take a couple of deep full breaths beforehand. You’re starting to bring a sense of mindfulness in your life.
After a while you can start to expand the practice of mindfulness to more activities, both simple and complex. And expand it more again, until you’re doing it over the entire day.
Practice mindfulness everyday and you’ll find a richer perspective to life. Your awareness will expand. You’ll start to appreciate the ordinary. You’ll start to get insights out of the blue. You’ll feel uplifted inside. And if you’re lucky, you’ll begin to get a glimpse of your life’s purpose.
PS. Like I just threw my entire focus, mind and body into writing this post.