Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mindless or Mindful?

Washing dishes, brushing my teeth, feeding the cat, clipping the hedges--all these and so many more mindless, mundane details of daily living can be mind-numbing, even dispiriting, because of the sheer monotony of doing them, especially when we do them hurriedly to get them behind us.

Yet I find that all such tasks, however routine, can be opportunities for mindfulness, for entering fully into the present moment. And when we lose ourselves and a sense of time while performing a "mindless" task, we are (however briefly) stepping outside time and into the timeless present of eternity.

So it is not surprising to find spiritual writers like Thomas Merton referring to prayer as attention to the daily unfolding of ordinary life. Openness to the present moment, he says, and trusting in its sacred value, will bring us in contact with our true selves and thus into union with God.

So when I hear people talk about the weather, or mention seemingly trivial details about their daily lives, I try to see these comments as signs of mindfulness. They reveal the need we all have to acknowledge the reality of the present moment.

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