Habit might be the enemy of Awareness or Mindfulness. Doing things routinely without thinking is a practice that allows our mind to wander into the past or the future or the make believe without really being present. Sometimes, this is just what I want to do! Yes, I admit to blowing up Mah Jong tiles and Free Cell rows when I want to veg out. But if I want to be truly alive, I try to pay attention to each present moment.
Thich Nhat Hahn gives a wonderful lesson to Oprah Winfrey on drinking tea mindfully in this clip. Oprah, out of habit, takes a sip of her tea before the meditation even begins. I smile, thinking, “how embarrassing!” and noting that I probably would have done the same thing if I wasn’t careful.
Habits can be comforting…and they can lull us to sleep. Do you want to be awake? Do you feel like there will be plenty of time to be dead later on? I do. Except when I don’t. It takes a lot of psychic energy to be alive! Think about all that’s involved when you do a simple thing like climb up a short flight of stairs. Your weight is shifting, balancing, your muscles are contracting, your toes are gripping, your hand may reach out to the banister, your eyes are measuring the height of each step, you’re breathing with the exertion, and all while trying to remember what you’re going upstairs for! Walking meditation, tea meditation, stairs meditation…it’s all the same practice of mindfulness.
This picture adds another aspect: Steve in meditation. I see him every day. I want to be mindful of that miracle. He’s alive, different, changing, dynamic, and important. So am I, but I have a long way to go on that one. Appreciating myself is the hardest practice for me.
– Priscilla Galasso
© 2013, essay and photographs (above and below), Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved
PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey.
Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.