Mindfulness for the Mike
I’ve been a practitioner of this for some time. I started writing some notes here and there about what it all means for me. It comes down to three practices:
- Walking. I have viewed walking as this moving mindfulness for awhile. I don’t count steps or breaths or focus on a thing or not. I just go. Walking sometimes becomes this effortless expanse. Yesterday I found a dirt road which let me just go. Children waved. The Cambodian sun talked to me. I found and lost a thousand meanings with each step and it was all okay. When I wrote about it in this little journal or note I keep, walking is a forever practice of never being done or achieving some goal. It is moving for its own sake. Not making a schedule or plan or a distance or goal. Those things would defeat my practice of just going. I think once some goal is applied it becomes something manageable and trackable. My walking practice is not those things. It was not always this way though. Back when I worked I measured and charted and GPS’ed my way for two hours after frustrations at work. I realized when I retired though the old practice was no longer good. I needed to find the new metric of the walking practice. It is still a work in progress. I still catch myself creating trends or metrics in my mind. Like saying “oh I walked this far today; tomorrow I should go this far”. That way lies danger. The danger of the routine. Of the practical. Of the defined. By its very nature my walking practice is none of those. It rises above and below the measurable and become its very own thing.
- Meditation. This one blurs the line sometimes with yoga but I practice this very simple thing. I want to find acceptance, happiness, and just being. Acceptance because many things can travel through as I go but I also send many things off by simply saying “not now. Thanks. Get back to you later”. Happiness because as the monk said find it and joy. For me in meditation, happiness comes with acceptance. Finally is just being. I’ve dealt with the things not to be considered, taken the things that I want to consider. Meditation for me is not the absence of things in my old retired guy brain. It is a practice of just accepting all the things as they are, being happy with it all, and then just being. It is an evolving yet open practice with the same kind of things as walking. I apply no standards of good or bad. Length or focus. It is simply enough to be.
- Yoga. I started yoga because my old retired guy back was often sore and a Vietnamese yoga instructor told me of restorative yoga. I picked this up but I made it mine much like walking and meditation. I have also made changes to how I do the yoga. I don’t use apps or videos or lists of postures. I just go. Much like walking. Much like meditation. There is no goal to it. It just is. I enjoy holding the positions longer now. Say for three minutes to get a nice feeling but it is not necessary. By the time I finish the practice I have often gone through all the steps of meditation and walking and often not. And it is all okay.
Now it’s especially important to reach the practice each day. I find myself often buffeted by anger or irritation or unhappiness and often they are trifling things that if I stopped and walked or did meditation or yoga on, I would let go much as I discussed. The toilet? No thanks. I will think on it later. But the practices for me are not the life. I can strive for some of the understanding but when I sink down for meditation or strive for walking or feel the wonderful essence of holding a position for three minutes I understand all this of this often cannot be extended. But I learn more. I learn more how life is put together for the three things. I can love Alin more when I reach the acceptance of just what I have. Does it make sense?
I thought through it today. We were both alone for so long and suddenly having each other after decades means we find the achy and wonder spots in each other. For me, having the practices gives me something more. Alin has her family and friends. I don’t really have expat friends here. Some move around by me but I need the practices I have to be able to try to extend the feelings past those precious moments of doing them. Learning all three things so arguments and irritations don’t rule the days. But it takes work folks. Being alone so long and then finding a person who you love brings so many other feelings to the fore. We want the person to “act, be, think” a certain way and we wonder why not. Well my practices help me see that they are the way they are and like I wrote, we can never really understand all those movements.
So that’s mindfulness for me. I have three things. They give me these wonderful senses of life. The acceptance, happiness and just being with the first two. Life is a practice too. We never can succeed at it because forever we have new things come up. I think though as long as I have the things, I can practice. Practicing is the thing. I never achieve but I practice. The steps, the asanas, the meditations.
I can take them, learn from them, try to apply them when I find challenging times. Like take a breath, say to myself,
do I really want this? No. Just let it go. Anger and yelling are not the answer.
But I also realize am a weak human with emotions, feelings, thoughts and desires. I found another when I thought I never would. With that has come challenge of all the things. We seem to survive and thrive beyond the feelings. She will tell me she loves me. Holds my hand. I know I will never leave Cambodia now. I am hers now. But I need the practices to make me more or less or find my way or lose my way. Life is a practice of mindfulness to me. So I just apply the walking, meditation, and yoga practices to the practice of living. There is no succeed, fail, trying. There is just being.
And because sharing a photo is always something I love. I can find a thing I took with no reason.
This has been good to write. There are journeys of endless steps. Let’s call them practices. We never finish because there is no line to them to cross. After all, it is the movement that counts.