May 2, 2013


Noting mindfulness in daily life (especially first thing in the morning!)

Well, the only conclusion is that there isn’t any: I watch how I turn on the kettle, switch on the grinder (the on–off switch is broken; the electrical outlet takes over this role) and, in particular, I watch how I reach for something: my mind is ahead of the game, focussed on outcome and not the action itself, most of the time. So, I take a breath, and relax (this seems to be the solution to most problems), and then re-reach for the AeroPress: there, I am back again.

I have decided to stop drinking alcohol until further notice; I have done this before but the objective is different this time: in the past, and coming from a family that drinks every day, I have wondered at times, “am I addicted to alcohol?”; it seems that I am not, though, because when I don’t drink, I do not miss it, at all, yet I love the taste of a glass of good red wine (and even indifferent ones have alcohol in them, as my brother, amateur wine critic, once famously noted); I love the effect of alcohol on my body (it’s instantly ‘smoothing’ for want of a better word), I love the conviviality of drinking with friends, and I hate the sensation of being drunk, so never am nor have been.

The reason for not drinking this time is clarity: while on the silent retreat, a five precept version, when one is reciting panca silaI am struck particularly by the fifth:

5.I undertake to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness.

Isn’t that a lovely way to express this position? I want this too: to avoid heedlessness. So, let us see how long this lasts; I intend a calendar month, though this will be harder than it would be at home when I get to Vancouver, leaving next Monday: my host loves having a drink; for her, it is a celebration of all that’s good about life: company, interesting talk—all the aspects of a live well lived.

If mindfulness is at all important, however, it deserves  one’s full attention and it needs energy and intention directed to it; not drinking at all seems the least one can do in support.

Coffee #1 has been consumed; coffee #2 is a small idea that will be realised—and it’s coffee #2 that I like the most, because the taste buds have woken up and all the sensations of drinking a coffee are magnified. A side note: when at home my coffee (with a dash of fresh cream, not milk) always contains a generous sprinkling of equal proportions of the three herbs that Bhagavan Nityananda recommended to reduce the downsides of coffee: cinnamon, cardamon, and nutmeg (which I grate fresh; a completely different taste to powdered nutmeg from the spice rack in a supermarket); these go on last and the aroma and flavour is smile-making. And I am reminded of a great line from one of my favourite books (Warlock, by Jim Harrison): “Sometimes the only answer to death is lunch.”

Lar Short, with whom I have sat over long periods of time (six months once, in Taos, NM) expressed this sentiment as the most important question, for anyone to ask, at any time: “What’s next?

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