How Do I Reach A Mindfulness Breakthrough?

Get a little help from your friends

It is very easy to pass unconsciously through our day. We get up, routinely perform a number of rituals, go to work,  fall  into a slipstream of familiar activity, and wind up the day. The content of the day becomes every thing. The trick is to use your creative thinking to become a  mindful observer of the context at the same time. How do we do that….?

We must tell ourselves we want to see our lives through this looking glass. We want to see the connections, be thankful when we see them, and realize we are in a flow when we do. You might call it the introspective pause.  Here is what I am talking about….

I have been staying  with my 99 year old mother  who is now bed-riden with cancer and  in her last days.  I vowed I would never take her  to a nursing home. However, the crisis hospice nurses unanimously recommended day before yesterday  that all of the reasons for keeping mom at home have now  ended.  Comfort in the home environment has been replaced with the intense need for knowledgeable and available nursing services . When one becomes bedridden, their is a  requirement for  constant attention. One  needs to be turned every few hours, night and day, to prevent bedsores. If you are in pain, and chances are you well might be, for if nothing else thee will be the soreness from lactic acid build-up.  You need to have people who can easily relieve it. So I gracefully capitulate, finding that all of the my fears turn out to be bogus, at least in my particular case. Everyone caring for my mother seems angelic and I feel that she is exactly where she needs to be. How strange. I couldn’t imagine that I would feel this way. I had a picture of attendants in a nursing home being kind of disenchanted, overworked and underpaid.  My picture was wrong. How relaxing it is to let that idea dissolve. Maybe I am lucky because   this is a nice facility my mom’s world has shrunk to the landscape of a bed surface.

I get  out of bed on day two and leave for the nursing home. When I arrive, she is sound  asleep to another world, one she will soon enter on a more permanent basis. I spend a few moments whisper in her ear that I love her and leave to get a long over due hair cut. The barber shop is closed but the next door  Starbucks isn’t. I stop for my morning dose of cinnamon which is served on a floating bed of foam and espresso, scan the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal I select. it is $2.00 instead of $6.50 for the New York Times and I feel pinched for time.

Scanning the paper I realize how  easy it is to become gridlocked in extreme points of view, and I have my share.  The important thing to realize is that in tugs of war the real changes occur at the center. If we swing too far left then the pull is back to the right and vice versa, but the dialogue that gets air time is at the  extremes: that is where all the juice is. A couple of articles jump out. For example the whole gun issue has perhaps gone too far. It is simply hard to make a case for anybody needing a 30 round extended clip hand gun for self-defense No public space is safe from a Tucson type incident.  People will not stand for it. That will probably change. The guns will stay but the clips will go.  At least that is what one journalist believes. Then there is the crisis story about critical thinking putting in a disappointing performance at the University level. I believe everyone is as smart as they have ever been. What to think about is the real issue.

Oops time to go. The barber shop is opening. A pleasant young bubbly gal with a big beckoning smile  is standing in front of an empty chair, obviously mine.  I tell her I used to think that when I was a teen-ager  a Mohawk hair style looked like x&?#. I wouldn’t be caught dead with one.  She replies, as she looks at what mother nature has wrought, a balding top with a natural cluster of hair down the center, “My or my, I usually have to do a lot of work to give my young customers the latest fashion look, a “Mohawk.” You’ve got it naturally. I’ve accepted it.

“How long have you been cutting hair,” I ask.

“Oh, about twelve years,” she replies. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love helping people look good and I am good at it. “ She looks to be in her late 20’s.

I respond with Jack Nicholson’s famous line, “That’s as good as it gets,” thinking she is either wise beyond her years, has good karma, or  is extremely lucky-maybe all three.

“If you have energy to do something, that seems to be all that matters,” I say.

“Exactly,” she replies.

I get up with my stylish Mohawk, and leave a substantial tip. I’ve gotten a good haircut,  and received a pleasant emotional boost  from one of those special souls masquerading as an ordinary person.

Driving back to my mother’s apartment I  tune to public radio. The dialogue is with Jaron Lanier, known as the father of virtual reality. There is a pure innocent state in the dialogue. He urges that people maintain their individuality and not simply conform to the herd instinct. He maintains that many younger people are so concerned that their Face book  image be accepted that who and what they really are is hidden. He posits that technology as it moves towards this idea of singularity, may inhibit or subjugate the uniqueness that is you  we are creating-an interesting debate.  I hastily write down his latest  book, “You are not a gadget” and immediately go to Wikipedia and Amazon to read more about him. He is Unique.  His comments have jolted me. I decide  this morning that perhaps I am being a bit more of a conformist than I want to be, blogging more about the safer side of my own personal explorations. I think of Jaron’s interview as a synchronistic wake up call.

So, this is what my last two days have been like, on the one hand the vanilla world of mundane activities and on the other hand a richer observation of my interior world when seen through a different lens. Think about your last few days. Can you see the people and events from a different perspective?

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  1. Richard Clarke says:

    Been thinking about you Sandy, this morning I went to your Facebook page and ended up reading your latest blog. Excellent , I hope your mother is making a smothish transition, maybe in days to come the whole transition, death business will be far more understood and better navigated.
    I also related strongly to what you wrote about keeping ones profile in the acceptable tracks , I strongly suspect most of us have a least a tendency to do exactly that. Even though we espouse being ourselves ! Conformity is quite a powerful energy when you think of it. Social norms, accepted behaviour, no wonder change is often so ponderously slow at times . Imagine a world in which Seth speaks was required reading for college .
    Now there’s a quantum shift !

    Kia Ora


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