Friday, September 2, 2016

Moving the Kitchen Trash Basket

For many, many years, I've placed my kitchen trash basket under the sink on the right hand side of the cabinet. I've gotten to the point where I can reach inside the cabinet door and place the trash without thinking. Definitely without looking. It was so easy and fast. Open the cabinet door and zap the trash was disposed.

Then I had a drip under my sink and I needed to move the trash basket.

I moved it to the left side of the space under the sink.

That's when my new awareness program began.

What I discovered is that the best way to create a mindfulness practice is to move the kitchen trash basket.

All of a sudden, when I mindlessly opened the cabinet door to dispose of the trash, the trash basket wasn't there. It had moved and every time I had to stop and think where I had moved it. It wasn't that far. Just about two feet, but that two feet was wider than my memory.

After the first three frustrating times, I realized that this practice of moving the kitchen trash basket was the best thing I could have done to revive my awareness practice. I didn't have to pay to go on a weekend retreat to remember how many minutes each day I spend in habits that I have dropped my awareness.

After a couple of days, I was back into being present to the 'present moment' and back up and running with full awareness.

Thank you drip under the sink and thank you relocated trash basket.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tuesday Morning Dancing

On Tuesday mornings the television news program plays music from the 1960’s before the commercial breaks. Every time I hear the music, I look up from reading the newspaper, push the dining room chair back, stand up and begin moving to the music.

I dance around the dining room table and into the kitchen. I wiggle my behind and shake my shoulders while I raise my arms over my head and sway back and forth from one side of my body to the other. I prance around on tippy toe and stop to kick my legs in the same direction as my arms.
Although I start dancing with the musical introduction into the commercial break, I continue through the advertising commercials, and into the next news segment, as I sing the old songs and make the long-time rhythmic moves to the beat of the music that I replay in my memory. I dance the “Pony”, the “Twist”, “Line Dances”, the “Bump”, depending on the musical inspiration.

I beam from ear to ear, smiling and remembering what it feels like to be back in college listening to the songs for the first time. I start to remember all my favorite dance partners and the great times dancing into the night.

When I realize that the commercials have ended and the next news segment has begun, I sit back down on the dining room chair, pick up the newspaper and get back to acting as if I am a mature person starting out her morning.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Monday Morning Café Phone Songs

I stop by the local coffee shop on Monday morning for a cappuccino. As I stand in line, I listen to a symphony of sounds.

At one table, crickets chirp and a woman answers a cell phone. The theme song from Mission Impossible begins and a man answers his phone while walking out the door. The crickets chirp again and the woman flips open her phone for the second time. The familiar theme from the Pink Panther wafts into the air and stops as quickly as it starts with a flip of a wrist. 

Quiet conversations over a cup of coffee mixed with the sizzling sound of steam frothing milk in a metal pitcher at the espresso machine return the space to normalcy.

The crickets chirp again and this time the woman wearing a green racing jacket and tight black bicycle shorts flips open her phone for the third time. The crickets abruptly stop and the woman in a loud voice gives directions to the coffee shop for a third time as the rest of the room listens.

The door opens and everyone looks to see if the woman’s friend has finally arrived. No. A mother and child enter to purchase hot chocolate and coffee. Other people enter and leave, but the lady in the green jacket and padded bicycle pants stands looking out the window surveying the parking lot and taping her special black bicycle shoes on the cement floor. 

A loud rendition of Big Band music from the 40’s begins at a corner table and continues and continues as a woman shuffles through her purse to find her phone. The music stops while the lady is still searching, followed by her comment in a loud voice to her husband, who is hard of hearing, that she can’t find her phone but everyone in the coffee shop already knows that.

I pick up my cappuccino at the end of the counter, exit the coffee shop and head to the parking lot.  As I push the automatic lock release on my car key and hear the whish sound acknowledging the car door is unlocked, my phone plays a rendition of a Strauss Waltz. I juggle the cup of coffee, my car keys and my purse as I open the car door and answer the phone.

After the call is answered, I slide the phone into the cell-phone parking space in the loose change holder, the coffee cup is secured in the designated cup holder, my purse is tossed into the passenger front seat and I start the car.

During the drive home, slowly slipping on my coffee at each stoplight, I realize how much I respond to audio clues to determine what is going on around me. I glaze back into my life prior to cell phones and automatic car door locks when I opened the passenger door with a car key and drove home to answer the phone.

As I turn into my driveway and push the automatic garage door opener, I wonder if I would choose to listen to birds singing and leaves rustling in the trees instead of the manipulated noises that unconsciously tell us that our automated lives are in perfect working order.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sunday Morning Symphony

After a quick errand at the grocery store one quiet Sunday morning, I walk out of the building into the parking lot.   The sun is still low in the sky as the last of the early morning fog drifts above my head. The air is cool and I respond by zipping up my fleece jacket while I juggle my car keys, purse and recyclable cloth bag filled with orange juice and blueberries.

The highway in front of the store is empty with the exception of one or two cars driving by at a slower speed than the usual rush hour dash. The tempo of activity in the parking lot is relaxed since there is an oversupply of empty parking spaces for the few cars driving along the designated lanes towards the store.

As I walk towards my car, several people exit their cars, closing car doors, clicking automatic car lock buttons on their computerized car keys before they walk into the building. I push the button on my car key and the whishing sound of my car doors unlocking adds to the collection of noises floating up with the fog into the stillness of the morning air.

Cells phones ring interjecting a song line to the rhythm of car doors sliding shut, automatic locks clicking and the confirming horn honks. The early morning symphony catches me by surprise. 

I stand in the middle of the parking lot listening to the sounds: horns honk, doors slide, a waltz, doors slam, foot steps, the beat of a rock ‘n roll drum, beep, backlights flash, cars start up, grocery carts giggle, a jazz standard begins and abruptly stops, people talk, doors slide open, doors slide close, beep, the headlights flash on and off, the old fashioned ring of a telephone, beep, horn, lights flash, door opens and I slip into the silence of my car.

During the drive home, I realize how much I respond to audio clues to determine what is going on around me. I glaze back into my life prior to cell phones and automatic car door locks when I opened the passenger door with a car key and drove home to answer the phone.

As I turn into my driveway and push the automatic garage door opener, I wonder if I would choose to listen to birds singing and leaves rustling in the trees instead of the manipulated noises that unconsciously tell us that our automated lives are in perfect working order.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Saturday Morning Breakfast Meditation

I love Saturday mornings when I make my breakfast without turning on the television to listen to the news. Instead, I stand in front of my kitchen sink and look out the window at the birds outside chirping as they scrounge for delicious morsels of food.

After a few minutes, my stomach begins to tell me that I need to make breakfast. I listen to my slippers shuffle on the tile from the kitchen sink to the refrigerator. As I pull on the handle, I hear a very small swish noise releasing the suction between the rubber insulation and the refrigerator frame. I noisily collect a carton of eggs and my can of coffee grounds, slamming the refrigerator door as I turn and and shuffle back across the kitchen.
At the sink as I turn on the water, it moves through the cold washer inside the faucet making a gurgling noise and gushes into my teapot. It’s been waiting all night to be released from the confines of the water pipes.

After filling the teapot, I hear myself slam it onto the heating coils on the plastic base and click on the switch that starts the movement toward boiling hot water. During the week, I don’t hear this noise when I am listening to the news on the television. I notice my habits more when I am being mindful in the silence. The cold water begins to jump around in the teapot as the water molecules move from cold to warm to a hot boil and I listen for the sound of the rapid movement of the liquid hitting the sides of the teapot. The kettle makes a clicking noise when the water has reached the perfect temperature that I don’t usually hear during the week when I’m listening to the television.

I pull out my Chemex coffee carafe and shuffle to the pantry to find a coffee filter. Remembering that I am in mindful-mode, I consciously pull off the plastic top on the coffee can and dump the two tablespoons of coffee grounds into the filter. Today I can hear the plop, plop of the coffee and then I pour the hot water over the grounds. This noise of the steaming liquid moving from the teapot is different from the water arriving through the faucet.

I slide the eggs out of the paper carton and place them into a pot. They roll around the saucepan as I carry them over to the faucet to add the water and return to stove and turn on the burner. As the water quietly heats up, not like in the teapot, the eggs move around the pan until they find a comfortable place to sit to cook.

I go off to read the paper at the kitchen table until I hear a splashing noise and look over at the stove to find the water boiling and the eggs dancing and jumping in the turbulence of the boil. I never hear this noise on a weekday morning with the television on and many mornings I overcook the eggs because I haven’t looked up in time to check on them. Today, the eggs are perfect, as I crack open the shell, and gently pull the hard protective covering apart revealing firm egg white cushioning a golden yolk inside.

I shuffle back to the kitchen table with my coffee mug and bowl of soft-boiled eggs. I look out the window above the table to watch the birds find their morning breakfast in the grass.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dieting in the New Year!

January is the season for New Year’s Resolutions.

During December as we celebrate all the holidays with gusto devouring all our favorite delicacies and sweet desserts, I don’t hear anyone anticipating their annual New Years Resolutions.

Right on schedule, right after Midnight on New Year’s Eve, we begin to think about what we need to do to shape up for the coming year and most of us are thinking about dieting so we can undo what we have been doing the entire thirty days prior to our change of heart, or should I say, change of diet. 

Let me share with you how I diet.
I diet at the grocery store.

I can stick to this diet because I am a rather lazy person when it comes to satisfying any dietary cravings. If I am hungry for a certain food and it isn’t in my refrigerator or pantry, I won’t jump into the car and drive to the store to get it. I can’t find the motivation or energy to listen to my taste buds that seriously to make a special trip to the grocery store.

My diet consists of driving to the grocery store once a week and buying only the items on my grocery list and nothing more. No impulse buying for me. Well, at least, most of the time I can use my will power to limit my purchases to what I have planned ahead of time to buy.

My grocery list consists of the foods that are healthy and good for me. Sometimes, I add ice cream, but not for every trip, only occasionally.

As a result, my diet consists of having the will power to stick to my shopping list at the grocery and nothing more. Consequently, I only have to do that once a week.

When I am at home, I don’t have to be on a diet. I just eat what is in my house. All the food options in the refrigeration and on the shelves in my pantry are only the foods that I should eat. This removes the emotional stress and strain of trying not to eat something that isn’t on the diet. If it isn’t in the house, then my diet is safe from any ”will power” problems.

My advice on how to diet – just stick to your shopping list at the store and eat all your food in your house.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Contemplative Communication

In my meditation this morning, I realized that through this blog I have the ability to communicate with more people than I know. That was not always the case.

In the past, to communicate with another human being, the average person had to know the individual to either speak or write some sort of communication.

Way back in history before writing was invented, people spoke to each other face-to-face. When writing was invented individuals could communicate with someone they knew via written communication. Letters were the vehicles for sharing information.

During this time, there existed "town cryers" who acted as the town's communication system, walking around screaming out the news the town needed to know. Orators were popular, expressing themselves to crowds of people they didn't know. But the average person had a limited number of people they communicated with.

Then the telegraph was invented taping out messages along wires, followed by the telephone. With these inventions, one still needed to know "to whom" they wanted to communicate. One needed an address or phone number.

As computers became more common and the internet was created, emails became a popular vehicle for communication, but people still needed to know "to whom" they were communicating because they needed a specific email address.

With the sophistication of the internet and the creation of "blogs", "Facebook", "Instagram" and other apps used to share information, the game has changed. We are living in a wide community of communication without having to "know" anyone, and least of all, know "with whom" we are interacting.

Here I am sitting at my computer, typing on this blog, to send out this communication, without knowing "to whom" I am sending it to, "to whom" is reading it and "to whom" is sharing these thoughts with a wider community. Our community is wider than our personal list of contacts on our mobile phones, our friends on Facebook or our email list.

We are flinging our thoughts out into the ionosphere and not knowing where they will land.