So another day, another blog. For the past week, I have been trying to write a post about a postcard I received in the mail soliciting my conversion to Islam. While fascinating to think about, I couldn’t write about it properly without potentially offending someone. My snarky writing style doesn’t lend itself well to controversial topics like religious conversion apparently; and I’ve determined that it’s not a theme that I want to explore, in writing anyway.
(For the record, I have nothing against Islam. I think that all religions exist for a reason… and it’s not to hate and kill the “wrong” adherents. Everyone is entitled to their own religion; just don’t step on mine.)
And that’s really all I have to say on that subject. For now, anyway.
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But while we’re on the subject of spirituality (sort of), let’s talk about mindfulness, shall we? Yesterday, a very wise woman asked me to start practicing it every time I feel stressed out.
Mindfulness is a form of awareness where you use all of your senses around you to experience a situation. For example, when your mind wanders to a place where you don’t want to go, you immediately focus your energy on feeling all five of your senses. So while walking down the street, feel your feet inside your socks, pressing on the soles of your shoes. Hear the cars fly past you. Smell the car fumes coming from the street. Observe the asshole in front of you yelling at some poor schmo for not turning his car fast enough. (Nonjudgementally, of course.) Taste the bile in your mouth as you become nauseous from the whole scene. In essence, you are maintaining a calm awareness of your body’s functions, sensations and feelings; distracting yourself from your past and future by focusing entirely on the present.
It feels very Buddhist to tell you the truth.
Because I always have ten thousand different thoughts assaulting me at one time, I tried it out last night. Sitting on my couch, I felt my butt and thigh fat expand on the fabric (yeah, it’s flattering), and the weight and fur of my cat’s hair on my lap, touching my arms and palm of my hand. I could feel my blood pumping from my heart to my abdomen, possibly helping to digest the dinner I just ate. I smelled the remnants of said dinner past wafting through the house one last time. Airplanes were flying overhead as they always do, carrying tired passengers to National Airport, just a few miles away. My mouth was tasting good, because I had just brushed my teeth and flossed… my mouth was closed and I could feel my chapped lips. I closed my eyes for a minute, staring at the back of my eyelids before me…
Then the realities of life impeded my reverie, and I got up to clean the cat’s litter box. I’m not very good at this mindfulness thing yet. Like everything else, it’s a skill that needs practice. But for the thirty or so seconds that I was mindful, I did forget about the world and everything around me.
You guys should try it sometime.