After just now almost putting a pot of hot coffee into the refrigerator, I decide to spend a few minutes reflecting on how my Mindfulness Project for 2015 is coming along. To begin with, I just tried to put a hot pot of coffee into the refrigerator. That did not strike me as being especially mindful. But on second thought, I didn’t follow through. I said to myself, I am putting a hot pot of coffee into the refrigerator–and then, lo and behold, I stopped myself from doing it.
Mindful drinking, where alcohol is concerned, did not go as planned in the first few days of the new year, but did result in a dry seven days afterwards, just to see if it could be done. The good news: it can be done.
I have taken to a morning ritual of vitamin meditation. I sit at the dining room table, most often on weekdays about 10 or 15 minutes before my son and my wife emerge from the bedrooms to get ready for the day. I’m alone, in soft light, with my juice, my cup of coffee, my bowl of cereal, and an assortment of gummy vitamins. I close my eyes, take my vitamins one at a time, and concentrate on my chewing. I say to myself, this vitamin C is preventing scurvy; this calcium is good for my bones; this vitamin D is making up for the heavy rain in Portland; this B12 is working to make me more energetic; this multi-vitamin is multi-tasking on behalf of my general well-being. Chewing and breathing, I know I will have a good day.
I’ve been mindful about driving to work: every day I drive to work I am mindful about the fact that I am not biking or walking.
I’ve been mindful about how behind I am with the grading of student work: I breathe and calm myself, knowing that one way or another here at the end of the semester, it will get done (or it won’t get done), but ultimately, no one will get hurt. I will not work a 70 hour week and my students will forgive me for that. In the same realm, I am mindful about how absolutely lucky I am to be working this year with IB Seniors, and what a joy they have been, and how incredibly impressive they were on their oral exams, and what a great gift it is to have the luxury of sitting down with each of them for 20 solid minutes while they speak their minds about literature. As much as I wax and wax about the difficulties I face in public education, these experiences–no, not just these–most all experiences I have with kids inside the classroom are rich and infinitely interesting. I am mindful that it’s not them and it’s not me. It’s something else–mostly having to do with numbers, numbers of students, numbers of minutes, numbers of factors outside my control influencing my charges, numbers of new assessments and responsibilities, the never-ending and ever increasing number of expectations that we will do more with less.
I have been mindful about my creative work: every day that I don’t do anything creative I recognize this fact, try not to beat myself up, and think ahead about how to carve out the appropriate time for writing and music.
And finally, I have been mindful that too much of my time I am looking at a screen. Between email, huffington post, face plant, and videos of cute kittens, my attention is constantly tugged at and pulled in various directions. So now, I’m going to sit in the dark with a glass of something and listen to some music as my wife and son sit upstairs watching episode after episode of Once Upon A Time.