It’s that time of year, we’re half way through summer, actually we are more than half way now aren’t we, our circadian rhythm in sync with the dog days of summer. Forgotten are the days of lunch packing, carpool, soccer practice, tutor circuit. I have to admit a part of me relishes the slower pace while the other part is absolutely pulling their hair out. You know the drill … children checked out in front of the TV, mounting piles of laundry followed by the inevitable …. “I’m bored.” It’s just about enough to make me wish school started next week. But if I were to do that, then I’d miss out on those things only seem to happen as we wind down summer; eat dinner outside, go for ice cream and replacing showers with night dips in the pool. In a few weeks with our XL Twin sheets in tow, we leave for Arizona to drop Super B at college. Yes, college friends. For that reason alone I’d like time to slow to a crawl please and since serious time dilation only seems to happen a million light years or on the edge of a black hole (remember Interstellar?), I have to find more earthly ways. I call it downshifting and apparently this is already a thing.
Being mindful is a start. Time is all about perception right? The world around you is constantly sending directives, gentle reminders of where you are in time/space. For instance as I write its dark enough that my monitor illuminates my desk and the sky has a touch of blue. I hear the distant roar of plane engines (which can only mean one thing around here, its 7:oo am, our airport shuts down at night.) And if I needed further convincing my computer also shows me the time. I know I’m sitting here because gravity pushes me into my chair, imprinting the back of my thighs with a tiny weave pattern. I feel my feet equally resting on the cool floor below. Soon the sun will shine on the highest point in the distance, casting her shadows alerting me that time is once again in motion, kids will begin to stir and we will start the process all over again (and again.)
Wash, rinse, repeat.
A great place to start your mindful practice (or to learn how to meditate) is Wherever You Go, There You Are, or really any book by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Wherever you go is broken down to lessons by chapter and at the end of each there is a suggested idea to try. Here is an excerpt from the chapter Doing Non-Doing :
During the day, see if you can detect the bloom of the present moment in every moment, the ordinary ones, the “inbetween” ones, even the hard ones. Work at allowing more things to unfold in your life without forcing them to happen and without rejecting the ones that don’t fit your idea of what “should” be happening. See if you can sense the “spaces” through which you might move with no effort in the spirit of Chuang Tzu’s cook. Notice how if you can make some time early in the day for being, with no agenda, it can change the quality of the rest of your day. By affirming first what is primary in your own being, see if you don’t get a mindful jump on the whole day and wind up more capable of sensing, appreciating and responding to the bloom of each moment.
I will admit it, I find it extremely challenging not to be doing something all the time. I’m going to work on that.
Here is the current stack next to my bed. I feel like I can pick one up read a chapter and move on with my day or my favorite, read and let those be my last thoughts before sleep.
- Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies For Modern Life Sakyong Mipham
- Wherever You Go, There You Are Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Flawless Mirror Kamala Silva
- The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You … (Mark Nepo)
Another way you can really slow time is dissecting your day into a bunch of time slots with a good planner. But user beware, if you are like me surmounting lists can work against you making you HYPER aware of ALL the things that needed to be completed, like yesterday. Somedays I feel like I put more time into planning than doing. We’ve talked about my time management struggle before. Remember the Day Designer turned paperweight I coveted last spring in Week 9, (by the way I just spotted Day Designer Planners at Target.) This year my friend @sixbookshelves posted a photo of Get To Work Book™ by Elise Joy and I thought to myself OK, she’s a smart lady I best get myself a copy and I’m glad I did because they sold out as in no more until 2016. Well after a month of Getting To Work I’d say I’m about 50% there. I was really committed to sitting down Sunday nights but then True Detective started up again and then of course there is Ballers and The Brink so my Sundays are done. But there’s hope True Detective’s season wraps up this week and I can finally start planning again (and maybe finally learn the identity behind the crow mask at Caspere’s soundproofed liar.) bonus: True Detective watchers read this before Sundays finale.
So aside from trying to get my house back in order after a botched renovation, packing up the college freshman, summers working from home and rehabbing my hip injury while keeping a photography business afloat we were hit with a curveball with an outcome that remains to be seen. Maybe someday I can tell you more in depth about that curve, but for now I have to turn my attention to that while keeping at the business of getting it all done or finding peace with doing nothing.
Either way the struggle is real.