Monthly Archives: October 2011

A lesson in mindfulness

I feel as though it was a lifetime ago that I walked expectantly into my one-hour-per-week yoga class on campus, extremely thankful it was offered. I wouldn’t have been able to take another grade school or high school PE class.

I wanted to rid myself of extra pounds. I wanted to rid myself of stress. I wanted to rid myself of guilt. I wanted to rid myself of. . . memories.

So many memories.

I believe it was the second time we met that the yoga instructor sat us down in a rather large freaking huge circle. I was curious and open-minded. She got out a box of raisins and I wondered silently, “How the hell are raisins supposed to help me lose weight and get more flexible?” While I’m still completely uncertain how raisins can do those two things for you, I do know how they can help you become a healthier and happier person.

Please allow me to share this lesson with you. And please help me remember this lesson when I’m feeling low.

The yoga instructor had us all choose a golden raisin from the box and then return, quite perplexed, back to our seats.

“I want you to close your eyes and put this raisin in your mouth. Do not chew it. Just place it there. . .” she began. “Roll it around. Feel its texture. Notice the sharp ridges and rounded sides. Feel the weight of it on your tongue.”

She spoke in a soft, slow, welcoming, and warm voice. I felt my shoulders begin to relax.

“Allow the raisin to plump in your mouth. Feel it accepting its surroundings, taking in the moisture, becoming fuller and rounder.”

I began breathing more softly.

“Slowly begin to chew the raisin. Feel the skin pop. Taste its simple but bright sweetness. Try and realize every thought, every feeling, every motion, every sensation it gives you.”

I was suddenly much more enthralled with a raisin than I’d ever been in my life. I may have been more in tune with that raisin than I had been with anything else in my life. And that was the point.

She had us slowly open our eyes and re-tune to our surroundings. I had never enjoyed a raisin so much in my life. I’d never realized so much about the tiny little fruit; nor had I ever known that there is so much to experience – just within a raisin.

The level of pleasure, enjoyment, education, and understanding about a person or situation depends upon how mindful we are of it.

When is the last time you sat to watch something on television but couldn’t remember what you watched as soon as you got up from the couch? That’s because your mind was elsewhere. I’ve had the same happen while driving to and from my daily destination. My mind starts wandering to other places and completely forgets to enjoy the current moment.

I don’t want my life to be a series of flashes and barely-memorable experiences. I want to enjoy and truly appreciate each moment as it’s given to me.

(This is with the exception, perhaps, of giving birth to Tori – I’m glad to remember her delivery but I am also thankful that I remember very, very little of the pain I breathed through while I labored.)

I want to enjoy each day for its own scenario – for that day’s extreme heat, or extreme cold, or for that day’s perfect breeze while I walk. Each song, each story, each task. . . I want to enjoy it for its own simplicity or complexity. Either way – I want to recognize it. It’s amazing that, when I slow down to recognize each moment for what it is, it usually results in me walking away with a smile on my face.

Try it.

Dear Tori: You’re killing us, kid.

I remember the weeks following your birth like they were yesterday. I couldn’t snap enough fuzzy pictures (while trying to avoid blinding you with the camera flash) while you were sleeping.

Or had your eyes open.

Or were simply being.

There for a little while the amount I bragged about you made me feel a little overwhelmed and I’m sure that everyone I spoke with tired of hearing the wonderful things my baby did.

But kiddo, I have news for you. . . that was nothing. You’re killing us with your cuteness.

You are absolutely *the* most polite two-years-and-two months-old little girl. When you ask for something there’s rarely a time that you don’t ask politely, but when you do forget, all we have to do is give you a look and you’ll enthusiastically bust out with “PWEEEEEEEASE?!” When you’re handed something you promptly say “Tanks!” When we thank you for handing us something, you say “Ou wew-come!” Don’t get me started about sneezes. If anyone sneezes you say “Bess ee!”

You’ve said “Uh-oh” for the longest time – but the last couple of days it’s transformed to “Oopsy-daisy!”

You’re killing us kid.

You don’t walk anywhere. You either run or trot. Your long hair bounces behind you while you run from one side of the house to the other (usually toward your bed or ours where you dive directly into the mattress to “hide” and then start giggling).

You can’t help but giggle when you’re pretending to sleep. Between little “snores” you giggle. We tell you “Wake up!” and you giggle. If the roles are reversed and you tell us to wake up, you giggle. But my favorite is when we ignore your wake-up calls and you bend over sweetly, give us a kiss, and say “Night-night!”

I hear you bounding to the door from the outside when I get home from work in the evening. “MAMA! Ou’re BACK! Wook! (look)” Then you start telling me about your day as best you can in your broken two-year-old-English.

If we’re busy doing something and you remember something you want, you hold your tiny index finger in the air and say “Wait! I back!” You run to grab the whatever it is and come running back to us saying “I back! See?!”

Everything is new and bright and fascinating and funny to you. You’re (mostly) all smiles (you know, between those two-year-old temper tantrums). I truly am seeing the world through brand new eyes – and Tori – I thank you for that.

But seriously – if you get any cuter I’m going to OD on cuteness.

At least that’s a happy way to go.

I’m thinking of you.

You’ll be moving far away to make new friends soon.

Your three-month-old baby boy passed away a few short weeks ago.

You’re not sure how you can live without alcohol.

Your little brother passed away this weekend.

You’ve just embarked on a new life on your own.

You’re currently battling breast cancer.

You’re unsure about your future.

You’re battling the effects of having a brain tumor removed.

You just met your brand new baby boy last weekend.

You’ve been unemployed a long time and you’re unsure how you’ll keep going.

You’re leaving your husband to make a better life for yourself and your children.

You’re quitting a 17-year cigarette habit.

You don’t believe you’re strong enough to survive without a man.

 

You. . . all of you. . . I love you and I’m thinking of you. And I’m not the only one. Hang in there. You can do this.

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