The art of being, and making meaning
Day 289/366 days Towards Self-Mastery.
It would be great to be able to say that I have arrived, but that wouldn't be true. I've been practicing the art of being for as long as I can remember, well at least 20 years.
At first it was in fits and starts. It didn't go well. I had too much on my mind and to many chores to attend to. So I realised that I needed to quieten my mind. How to do that?
My mind only became quiet when I realised that all that chit chat monkey mind was trying to figure things out. Old traumas and unresolved situations that I wasn't able to make meaning of.
So I worked on those situations (for years, decades!) and can happily admit that most of them seem to be resolved. My mind is much more quiet than it used to be. But now I realise it's about what I focus on. I don't have a deity nor God that I subscribe to.
What to do?
My decision is to turn to nature. I can touch and feel and communicate with nature and experience its beauty and thriving.
Yet when I am working in my garden my mind wanders off to other thoughts that have little to do with creating a good compost pile or nurturing my plants. I bring my mind back to the job, I try to stay focussed and delighted in the immediate chore and the desired outcome. I find peace... for a while.
Being, for me, is a work in progress. I'm going to practice more today as I spend more time in my garden. Being indeed, seems to come from within.
When I focus on the meaning I make of what I am doing, it makes the job worthwhile. It infuses me and the job with purpose. Yesterday as I focussed on cutting up the pulled plants and layering them in the compost pile, I began to feel more connected with the task, more intimate with the ingredients of the compost heap, more aware of the rich formula that I was creating.
Prior to bringing my attention there, I was engaged in a mindless job. Going through the motions. Not connected and not engaged. As I say, it's a work in progress.
For me, the art of being is the art of being connected with what I am doing, the surroundings I am inhabiting, the tasks I am involved in. Having spent so much time absent, distracted, preoccupied by all that is required to create a Western lifestyle, my body here but my mind somewhere else, I have a strong sense of the disconnection this engenders.
It helps me to consider why I am doing something. Why am I creating this compost pile? To consume the vegetation and to turn it back into a rich source of nutrient for my garden. How will this twig contribute? If I cut it into small piece it will combust more quickly. What about this layer of comfrey leaves? They will ignite the fire, the heat necessary for the compost to begin the breaking down process.
By really staying present to the project I am creating and meaning making and crafting the best formula possible, all from within my own being, my imagination and my presence.
Have you ever watch a bee at work either gathering pollen in the garden of building its hive? They are so focussed on the work they are doing, so intent to explore ever stamen for pollen, elevating to fill their boots and then in for more. Precision and focus with that one objective related to their work. Collecting pollen, storing pollen, producing honey, building the hive. Whatever their job, they do it with deliberate focus day in and day out. No distractions. Their life has purpose and meaning. I'm pretty sure there is not a moment of wasted life in a bees life.
That's how I want my life to be. No time unappreciated and spent of meaningless activities. That's not to say I want to be busy as a bee all day everyday. No. I want to be engaged in meaningful activities or meaningful rest or whatever I'm doing, let it be meaningful.
Have you ever had an experience of completing a tasks and not remembering how it happened? You realised that you were completely switched off, or more likely somewhere else completely in your mind? I've done this over meals, in the garden, at my desk. Each time the job is done, but the essence of who I am is not present in them. They are not my best work. They are missing the important and life giving ingredient of presence.
Sarah says, "Once you commit to cultivating the habit of being, nothing in your daily round will lack meaning, because you'll discover that the meaning is within you."
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.