Maintaining the Mind

We are where we are, for the most part, due to choices, and for the rest often due to energy and intention. That’s not to say that experiences don’t come into our lives for a reason, that there isn’t learning to be found in them, but it is ultimately our own perception that unwraps the present.

My focus at the moment is maintaining my mind, but like most of us my attempts at sabotage are impressive.  Perhaps at our core we are both order and chaos. It is the order that encourages meditation, reflection and peace, and the chaos that seeks to sustain itself, so convinces us otherwise, with tiredness, procrastination, and all the ‘busy’ we surround ourselves with.

Things have been hectic lately. Possibly more so than usual or possibly the same, I might just be unwrapping it differently. Ultimately I am only ever in this moment, and more often than not this moment feels good. It’s all the other moments I keep jumping to that trip me up and stop me noticing the present before me.

I realize that the solution to this is meditation – it’s training my mind to drown out the noise of all the ‘stuff’ and focus. That focus can be on what I want, on the idea of the greater good, or even just on the fullness of the moment.

When I do this I find clarity, joy and an immense amount of perspective. It’s not that the puzzle falls into place so much as I realize that it was never out of place to begin with. It doesn’t have to take long, five or ten minutes once or twice a day even. It’s pretty impressive that such a tiny investment of time can have such great returns, proven returns even, with numerous studies and even quantum physics affirming that our thoughts and intentions shape our reality.

But how many of us actually do it?

More often than not we externalize. We maintain our houses, our cars, our finances, our jobs, our families, our pets, our bodies – but how many of us honestly can say that we invest the time to maintain our minds and spirits – the greatest influencers of our experience?

I read an analogy once about teaching children give and take. It suggested having two jars half filled with marbles. When you did something kind for them, you would place one of your marbles in their jar, and when they did something kind for you they would do the opposite. If either jar became empty there was no more to give. I like that. It’s a visual way of showing that we need to take care of each other.

Maybe we need to do it for ourselves too.

Giving doesn’t need to take away from us, doing something for another doesn’t need to drain us, and intense times in our lives don’t need to stress us. But they often do – because if we’re not putting anything back we’re prone to losing our marbles ;)

We are physical beings, and that’s good, but we’re more than that too.

Today, I’m going to nurture the ‘more’. I’m going to maintain my mind.

Today I’m going to take that ten minutes twice a day for me. I’m going to take it back from the internet, the television or the hamster wheel of thoughts that might otherwise be in its place.

I’m not going to let tiredness be an excuse, because rest is so much more restorative when I’m at peace.

I’m going to remember that there are many ways to give, and that my joy, like other’s, is infectious. I can give more to those around me when my jar is full – and I have the ability to fill it.

In doing this I will be more aware of this mind that I’m maintaining. I will naturally use words that are kind, and unwrap the world before me with the perspective of the present.

I don’t need to do anything fancy to make this happen. I don’t need to lose myself in techniques and how-to’s, I just need to reclaim that little bit of time and be aware of my breath, be aware of the now, and hold onto a positive feeing. My only goal in that time is to silence the ‘stuff’ and connect to that ‘something greater’. Some call it God, some call it their higher selves, and some just call it their subconscious. It doesn’t matter what I call it and it doesn’t even matter if some of the ‘stuff’ gets through the silence. It matters that I’m there. It matters that I’m choosing my highest good in that moment.

I deserve this today, and tomorrow too. But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I’m going to do it a bit at a time, because that’s the way that things usually get done.

I might try to talk myself out of it again, to sabotage it with tiredness or busyness or ‘stuff’, but that’s ok, because I’m going to come back to this.

 Today I’m going to remember not to lose my marbles.

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Santa’s gift

Christmas is coming; the rumble of summer storms mingled with Christmas carols and beach sand that burns our feet. And despite the sweat, Santa never seems to feel the heat in his big red suit.

Like all children, there came a time when I realized Santa was a myth. I hinted this to my parents, but they denied it; they fought to keep Santa alive for me for just a little longer. So I played them. Blatantly. I asked for overpriced toys, discontinued toys, one of a kind toys… dolls only found in museums. And I said, in my sweet little girl voice, that if Santa was real he could bring me anything.

I don’t remember what I got for Christmas that year, but I do remember the rush of victory when I didn’t get anything I’d asked Santa for. My parents had to admit defeat.

Then I grew up, and somewhere in my logical pre-mummy brain I decided that I wouldn’t lie about Santa Claus. There was enough magic in the world, I decided, without hiding behind made up fat men who got all the credit for mum and dads Christmas shopping. I wouldn’t lie, I’d just tell my kids that Santa was a fun game people played at Christmas time. Yep, that’s what would happen. But that didn’t happen. Bodhi happened. When he was two I went along with my plan and he nodded with wide eyes the way a two year old does when they’re really thinking “I’m-not-listening-to-a-single-word-you’re-saying-oooohhhtoys!!”

When he was three I dared to suggest the same thing and was told in no uncertain terms that Santa DID exist and was EXTREMELY real. There was proof of that, obviously, in the fact that there are all those story books about him. I mean look at them, HEAPS.

He’s four now, and Santa’s existence is clearly not a topic for debate.

So the myth of the fat man is tangible at our house. I’m glad. Because that pre-mummy brain didn’t see how much fun there was in his existence. How little logic was important when there was magic to be found. And the fact that I can already see Bodhi’s brain ticking over about the absurdness of it all (“So Mum, how does Santa get into the houses without chimneys?” “That’s not really Santa at the shopping centre is it?”) makes the fleetingness of it all the more fun.

 But with all the fun I also want to give my kids a little of the real stuff. A little of the Saint Nick stuff.

Every week Bodhi gets his allowance in coins. They are divided between jars, Living, Giving, Saving and Wealthing (though the savings one should just be titled “Lego”). This week we are about to count the Giving jar. We’re about to count the coins and give something.

We’ve spoken about what he’d like to give and he’s decided he’d like to buy some chickens or a goat for someone in Africa (we’ll use TEAR Australia’s “Really Useful Gifts http://www.usefulgifts.org/ ). We’ve spoken about why this would be a nice thing to do and he chats about it with the enthusiasm of someone still innocent enough to want to change a world they don’t really understand.

It’s awesome.

He’s also collecting toys here and there for the wishing tree. This week we’re going to buy wrapping paper, or rather he is, his choice, and I’ll be there with the scissors and tape to help him wrap them. Then he’ll go and put them under the tree for someone he doesn’t know, just because, just to make them smile.

You see my pre-mummy brain didn’t see the sense in the bearded man with his elves making presents. But that part of me didn’t get the moral of the story. The part where magic and giving come together. The part where my little elf counts his coins to make sure Santa arrives for someone else and wants to wrap a strangers gift as much as he wants to tear the paper off his own. That’s the magic bit, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.

So this Christmas I’m explaining about Saint Nick. I’m telling him about the birth of Jesus. I’m talking about the Summer Solstice. I’m also going to make sure there’s a reindeer carrot bitten in half on Christmas morning and some hoof prints on the deck.

And the way his eyes light up with excitement about it all is my gift. Thank you Santa – it’s perfect.

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012