We had a wonderful day Sunday practicing mindfulness in knitting, yoga, all lots of other ways. Mindfulness is really just being present in the moment and experiencing right now without thinking or worrying about the past or the future. Sounds simple, but it's amazing how hard it can be to stay focused. There I was knitting away on one of my favorite yarns in my absolute favorites color. I'm making a throw with mitered squares. The pattern is easy but not boring, and I really love working it. It should have been a breeze for me to focus on the yarn and the colors and be in the moment with my beautiful project. But my mind kept wandering - what else could I make with this yarn? What other patterns would look good in mitered squares? I was all over the place.
I've been told that I have a "monkey mind" -- I'm just so easily distracted -- and I've always felt kind of bad and guilty about it. Everyone else is Queen Serene, and I'm a monkey. But then Mary Ellen explained that it's not that Ihave a monkey mind, it's that the human mind in general is a monkey -- a drunken monkey who's been bitten by a scorpion. I was so happy to hear that. It's not just me, it's all of us, and calming the monkey takes practice. It is a practice, and it's something we have to work at all the time.
She suggested we think of our mind as a puppy that we are trying to train to stay. We put the puppy at our side and give it the command to stay. He stays for a while, and then, of course, he wanders off in pursuit of something interesting. We go and get the puppy and bring him back, and try again. And again. And again. We don't scold him or yell at him, or tell him he's stupid or a bad dog. We understand that It's a learning process. It's a practice. For everyone.
I love this puppy analogy because Malcolm, of course, and something kind of important occurred to me. We would never scold or berate a dog as he's learning. Not only because it would undermine his learning, but because we love him. Instead, we are kind and compassionate, and patient. Now, think for a minute about how we speak to ourselves when we make a mistake. We say things to ourselves that we wouldn't say to a dog. How many times have we berated ourselves for a simple error or for not learning something quickly enough? I sure have, and maybe you have too.
As we go through life, we are always learning, whether in our knitting, our mindfulness practice, or other challenges we face. As we learn and grow, we are going to struggle. We are going to make mistakes. It's okay. In fact, mistakes are often our best teacher, as they show us the boundaries of our knowledge and set us on the right path. So we must welcome the learning opportunity offered and treat ourselves with compassion, understanding, and patience. It's hard, but we'll get there. It's a practice.
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table. You are always welcome here.
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