Sometimes people ask me where I get the ideas for my weekly columns. Lately I have realized that I often find inspiration for them as I am doing tasks around the house. This is probably because I prefer to write in a down-to-earth way about those things we all experience. In that way I can insure that the people who read my offerings can more easily relate to what I am saying.
I feel that by writing about what I experience and what happens as a result I can be of practical help to my readers. Although my mother did not think so, I am a very practical person and like to convey practical advice. Most of us can relate most easily to what happens on an everyday basis. The inspiration for this column came to me as I was folding laundry.
The spring sun shone through the double glass doors of our bedroom. It felt good to see the brighter light as it filled the room. I thought of spring and how nice it was to have more light coming in the windows. As I picked up one of Stephen’s tee shirts, I smiled to think of him wearing it. Then a phrase drifted through my mind: the hands of love. That’s right, I thought, when I fold the laundry and think with love of the ones who will wear it, I am folding the laundry with the hands of love.
Then I thought about what this meant and how it applied to what I was doing at the time. Over the past few years I have been working on a daily basis on staying in the present moment. Whenever I think to do it, I take a breath, center myself and become fully aware of wherever I am and whatever I am doing. Because I have been doing it for a while, I now find that this sometimes happens spontaneously. What helps a lot in the practice is to focus directly on whatever one is doing in order to be fully present as one is doing it. Eventually this can become a habit.
Maintaining a sense of awareness is an inner discipline of mindfulness that can be practiced when doing any ordinary task. It is also good practice to do it at that time because I find I am most easily distracted when I attempt to keep my focus on the present moment. My mind has a tendency to wander about on its own, most especially when I am doing a repetitive task. I have to realize this in order to pull it back and focus it on the work at hand. Then when I lose track, off it goes. This has become almost like a game I play with myself.
The nice things is that this little exercise in mindfulness can be done so easily at any time and so joyfully, wherever I am and often whatever I am doing. However, when I think of the person who will wear the clothing, eat the food or benefit in some way from what is being done, I find it much easier to keep my focus. Even as I write my words for my weekly column, when I think of the recipients, I am writing with the hands of love. This makes any task a more joyous experience. Thus as I move through my days with this focus, I feel the joy of doing and giving flowing through me and it feels so good.