Sparks Fly When Monkey Mind Meets the Be Here Now Mind
Last Sunday I watched Jon Kabat-Zinn on the show Super Soul Sunday. Oprah shows a clip of him from her broadcast in 1992, probably his first national television exposure, and most assuredly the first time most people had ever heard the phrase, Mindfulness Training. I had read his book Wherever You go There You Are more than two decades ago and loved it.
So I’m sitting here having my delicious morning coffee, riveted and listening deeply. One of the things he has both written and repeats often is: “when you’re in the shower be in the shower.”
I know what he is saying; you may think you’re in the shower but actually you’re at the morning meeting or you’re in the argument you had last night with your kid or you’re deciding what to wear to the dinner party Friday night. In other words, the old be here now phenomena.
Be Here Now was the little tome that I read in 1977 that completely changed my life. And the author, Ram Dass, aka Richard Alpert became my teacher forever after. Living in the present, living in the now, being present and being in the now has become my life’s work. I say work because even though it sounds so completely simple, being present and not having your mind racing in a million different directions is very hard because the mind likes to dance and is always looking for a partner. And if the mind can do something it will.
Mr. Zinn says just realizing you are not in the shower is a way of what he calls resting in awareness. In other words, just catching yourself adrift is a moment of awareness.
So there I was, immersed in the television show and not in my coffee and I catch myself. This is, according to him, resting in awareness but I think I’m actually napping in forgetfulness. I am not present with my coffee. Instead, I am marveling over the phrase when you’re in the shower be in the shower. Like as in when you’re having your coffee have your coffee. Why is that so hard for me?
This being present is challenging for a monkey mind that while sipping coffee is also watching television, thinking it is taking in the message but also not living the message because it is also planning what to pack in case it gets cold and worrying about making it to the ferry on time. It’s also wondering if there is gas in the car, and whether the sunglasses are in the car or in the pocket of my down jacket.
You call this resting? Just because I can see the activity board of my brain doesn’t mean I can pull it back.
My husband is my own live-in devil’s advocate. He says, “what do you mean be in the shower and not think in the shower. Some of the best ideas have come in the shower.”
He goes on, building into one of his benign yet passionate lecture series. He says the chief scientist for the Hubble figured out how to get rid of the blurry image and get razor sharp focus while he was looking at the shower handles — in the shower. So your argument is faulty. Actually, he never uses words like faulty but he tried to shoot a hole in my be here now. The thing is, if you’re in the now the hole is now too.
So I laugh at myself resting in awareness. And then I turn off the television. I look at the mug in my hands. It’s my favorite mug. I taste the local honey (it’s my favorite honey). I savor the heavy (of course organic) whipping cream and I vow once more that when I’m in the shower (if I’m not trying to figure out dark matter) I will be in the shower.
Prompt: Write about a time you were present, really present...
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