Monday, January 24, 2011

No Standing Anytime

I've learned something about myself. I stink at living mindfully. Trying to keep my head and heart in the same time/space as my feet is proving...difficult. Exasperating. Frustrating. Like trying to wrestle water.

Who knew that it was so difficult to keep one's brain engaged at the task at hand? But while unloading dishes, I found myself pondering future blog articles. Vacuuming led to this internal monologue:
Focus. Fooocuuuussss...I'm vacuuming now. Short sweeps. Moving my arm. Back and forth. Don't vacuum up that...Too late. What's all this junk doing on the floor? Wait. Wait. Don't get too annoyed. Why not? I'm living mindfully, not Pollyanna-ishly. I'll just be mindful of how annoyed I am.
And so it went. At one point, desperate, I tried to behave like a woman who was vacuuming for the first time in her life. What is this thing? How do I do this? But that soon devolved into a bizarre, Eddie Izzard-esque narrative about this woman and why she'd never vacuumed before. You see? Hopeless.

I wondered just why my thoughts kept slipping away, quick as a wink. Yes, the vacuuming (and dishwasher unloading, clothes folding or the commute, the product meeting) is tedious. Mind-numbing. Dull. But why does my mind absolutely refuse to look boredom square in the face?

Is it easier to just wander off mentally than to acknowledge one's frustration and boredom? How would it feel to actually engage in laundry (or a commute)? To be fully present, instead of continually hauling back one's attention by its ear like a recalcitrant child? How does one stop looking ahead, above, beyond, behind and start looking here and now?

This dilemma reminds me of this sign, a photo of which I took in the spring last year. It's one of my favorite nonsensical signs...and is apparently my mind's motto as well.


  1. I think I'm in this with you...and looking forward to seeing how you do it, because I sure don't know how. I think it may be difficult enough to do this in the areas of life that truly matter, so I'm going to cut myself slack while vacuuming...Or, actually, during some other mundane chore, because that's not my job. ;-) I'm not getting a very good start at this...Since I'm answering this while I watch TV with the kids! Oops...

  2. I wonder if doing meditative breathing while vacuuming counts for mindfullness. Or is it just escaping to a non-distinct thought as opposed to thinking actively about vacuuming.

  3. My first response was it was crazy not to let our minds wander during things like vacuuming. I now see this will call for life simplification, which seems to be the overriding theme in these movies and books. To have time to give our activities, and especially thought, dreams, and plans their own time, there need to be far fewer of them. You probably said this in one of the posts.
    If we are bad, what will the lives of our kids, who never knew a time before everything was instant, be like by the time they're middle-aged? Microwaved food, instant messaging, and never doing anything without being attached to a phone and being in texted conversation with 4 friends at a time... I know now why I've been hoping my kids will do something like take up organic farming rather than join the rat race...My wish for them to start life like one of those stories with less stress and the right priorities.

  4. Rhome, I'm so bad about watching tv while surfing the internet! That's going to be one of my hardest habits to break. If you're interested in organic farming, I really suggest you read The Dirty Life. Very interesting!
    Lurahloo, your wondering about breathing made me wonder too. More about it in my new blog post. I'm very bad at mindful/meditative breathing. What have I gotten myself into?!