Steps Toward the Present: More Mindful Wandering

BLOG Steps Toward the Present

rain walk 1

Last week I was recuperating from a back injury, so I had more than the usual amount of time for reflection, time to do nothing, and I really like the space it’s left me in. For someone who spends too much time thinking, too much time in his own head, I have to admit that having unrushed time to think about things that are actually important to me, and with it, time to feel, to pay attention to my senses, and to listen to my intuitions, seems to be good for me. Perhaps rather than thinking too much, my problem may be that I think reactively too much.

It has occurred to me that, rather than some kind of ‘self-improvement’ actions, what I should be focusing on is getting rid of the gunk — the anxiety-creating stories and commensurate emotions, the tasks I’ve undertaken that are not essential to anyone, all the stuff that needs to be looked after — gunk that is preventing me from having the time to just be Me. I don’t need more things to do, I need fewer. And perhaps if I create more time for myself to just be Me, I will find that I am living in the Now.

rain walk 2

Rather than starting this week stressed and ‘behind’ as a result of having not done much on my ‘to do’ list last week, I started the week relaxed, refreshed, focused. I accomplished twice as much today as I usually do, and I did it better. I was more attentive to the people I work with, more centred, able to bring more concentration to the problems at hand, and more imagination and creativity. I was more helpful.

I recently pledged to learn to increase my awareness of my own feelings, manage my own emotions better, improve my emotional communication, and become more attentive and appreciative of others’ feelings and the context that has created them. I am starting to sense that by just being Me, just living in the Now, I might automatically and immediately become better at doing these five natural things. Living in the Now, it seems to me, must accelerate one’s self-knowledge to the point one becomes more intelligent (in useful ways), more emotionally intelligent, more aware and ‘sensitive’, more intuitive, more present.

Today I felt closer to people, more sympathetic. Could this living in the New even be the remedy for my misanthropy?

rain walk 3

Perhaps it’s just the euphoria of feeling better after feeling ill. But maybe all these struggles to try to meditate, to try to get myself into a space, this simpler ‘space through which stuff passes’, are bearing some real fruit. If so, here are the things that I’ve been doing differently, that might be worth making more time for:

  1. Deliberately doing less, just enjoying the passage of time, guilt free, lazily. 
  2. Long walks in the forest, in the rain, and in the moonlight.
  3. Listening to favourite, well-crafted music.
  4. Watching sunrises and sunsets, with a cup of tea.
  5. Surrounding myself with lovely smells — scented candles, flowers, spices.
  6. Looking at flames — candles and fireplaces.
  7. Smiling and laughing — at funny cartoons, poignant stories, playful kittens.
  8. Eating simple whole foods — berries, nuts, fruits, raw vegetables.
  9. Dancing by myself.
  10. Looking at things from unusual perspectives — up close, in shadow, looking up.

These attentive, solitary, sensory pursuits slow my breathing, my heart rate, and silence the machine in my head. Perhaps this is my meditation.

After I’ve spent some time doing them, I seem to be more centred, more ready for social activities, more competent at them. I enjoy them more. I’m more present.

I’m more Me.

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12 Responses to Steps Toward the Present: More Mindful Wandering

  1. “But Dave, you’re just being narcissistic! But Dave, you’re committing the deadly sin of sloth! But Dave, the revolution needs you! But Dave, I’m all fucked up inside myself and can’t stand to see you find peace!”Brought to you by The Voices Inside My Head (the ones I’m trying to stifle).

  2. Janene says:

    Hey –I think you’re on to something here, Dave… this last few days i’ve spent a bunch of time just being with myself and the world around me… and I’ve found something. Something I’ve been looking for. It’s absolutely brilliant. Eventually I’ll find words and therefore have more to say about it……….Janene

  3. Paul says:

    Ooh, could I do that? Dunno, I’m so wedded to lists of things to do, accomplishments waiting to happen. Gotta find the switch–let’s see, I thought it was around here somewhere …

  4. Miranda Weingartner says:

    I’ve been struggling with this as well. Given the space to feel, an awful lot comes to the surface, calling – not for action, funny enough – but for space, for acknowledgment. I think I’m going mad, but wiser souls tell me to just “let it happen,” to treat myself the way I would treat others (by doing many of the things on your list). I just love this post for the visual I now have of Dave dancing by himself in the moonlight. ;)

  5. Nick Smith says:

    I read this, and I can’t help but smile big. :)”I’m more me”… Absolutely, Dave.

  6. Less is more. Oh thanks for reminding me – dancing by myself. And in a few months there will be a new baby to dance with–even better!

  7. Mark says:

    How I long to get away from the city and do some similar soul searching. It’s easy to get weighed down by my email account…any suggestions for locations?—http://tinyurl.com/pkuvg2If you have strong feelings on water efficiency and/or flooding from global warming, then watch these and send them to people you know. Everyone can help turn climate change around.

  8. Steve Bean says:

    Dave, please do yourself a huge favor and just read Byron Katie’s _Loving What Is_ already. :-)Still loving reality. (And I met my dream woman last week! Really loving reality now! She does The Work too.)Steve

  9. anonymous says:

    “that might be worth making more time for:”How about doing whatever it is you feel like doing? I wonder if you found writing this post to feel forced? Why would you need to discuss this after this realization?

  10. Steve Bean says:

    Just saw your previous post on David Foster Wallace’s speech and how “unimaginably hard” the work of life is, Dave. Katie’s Work makes it easy. It’s a tool that becomes ingrained to the point that days and hours of Wallace’s work become minutes or even just seconds of Katie’s Work (just turn it around.)

  11. Paris says:

    Most of these 10 things on your list are just part of my lifestyle (except point 4 because I can’t see these from where I live)

  12. Paris says:

    But it’s no remedy for misanthropy, why would you want a remedy anyway?I claim my right to hate all those who want to kill me, be it with gun, nuke, pesticide or anything that is destroying my (ie human being) natural biotope.Therefore as long as most human beings are civilised I am proud to be misanthrop.

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