this moment

stencil graffiti of a pink person sitting in lotus position surrounded by blue omsGood morning! Happy Wednesday to you — or, no, wait, it’s Thursday, isn’t it? Happy Thursday. :)

Groundhog Day, too. Keep an eye out, there, for notice as to whether we’ll have six more weeks of reflection, or whether it’s time for an early bursting.

There was something I wanted to write about last night, when I was trying to fall asleep. I had a thought about something — what was it? Oh, hey, I thought. I could blog about that tomorrow — but I was practicing my mindfulness techniques, and so I didn’t let myself get up and go write down all my spinny thoughts on pieces of paper. Instead I told myself to relax and let it go — you’ll still have it tomorrow, Jen, or something else will come. And so I breathed in again and tried to just focus on that inhalation, that exhalation, this expansion of breastbone, this relinquishing.

Then this morning I sat down at my desk and had still forgotten, and got a little frustrated. Then I thought about the mindfulness class again, and thought, oh, wait, maybe it had something to do with mindfulness. then the whole story came back, and here I am sharing it with you.

To backtrack: I’m taking a mindfulness class at the Osher Center at Mt. Zion — UCSF has a lot of wellness resources, both for patients and employees, and I’m really grateful to finally get to try this out. In this class, meets four times, we will learn eight techniques (practicing two per week) to increase positive thinking and mindfulness. Last night we talked about and tried on a couple of mindfulness practices and gratitude practice.

Now, gratitude is something I feel I’ve done a pretty good job of incorporating into my regular life-practice: I hear myself using the words I’m grateful an awful lot. But mindfulness — slowing down, paying attention to only one thing at a time — and paying complete attention to that one thing — is a harder one. (Like right here, I’m paying attention to this typing, to Sophie who wants to go out again even though we just went out five minutes ago, to what all I need to do to get ready for this day…you know this run of thoughts). In the group, we talked about how our culture encourages multi-tasking, sees single-tasking as lazy, even, and certainly doesn’t make a lot of space for reflection or just sitting and watching the exquisite layerings of your own breath.

But here was the part I wanted to mention in the blog. At one point we were talking about how it can be easier (somewhat) to pay attention when we’re feeling good, or when something joyful or celebratory is happening — but that when we’re feeling bad, we see no reason why we should stay in that particular moment. Why would I want to be in this moment? my instructor imagined us asking ourselves.

And that stuck with me, hard. Why would I want to be in this moment? I thought back to yesterday’s post about stuffing, about escaping difficult emotions, and how many moments I have not allowed myself to fully experience because the feeling was bad (sometimes very bad) and I just wanted to get to the next one. Please, just let me get to the next thing.

Those moments are lost, now. What happens if I let myself be fully in each of my moments, whether I’m here writing, or walking with a gorgeous & exuberant pup, or pushing my way through the misty morning air toward the ferry, or experiencing heartache, or holding on to a wave of old sorrow, or — how much more full might my life feel?

She’s scratching at my leg now — I gotta go. This is the prompt for today: give me this moment. 10 minutes. Exactly — what are you feeling, seeing, experiencing.

Thank you for your patience, your practices, how you keep working. Thank you for your words.

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