That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything--every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate--is always changing, moment to moment. -Pema Chodron
|Walking to the volcano in Nicaragua|
In my grief, I've been given the opportunity to pause and look at the deeper questions of my life. I have actually found the thought of life's impermanence to be oddly comforting. What strikes me is that it comes down to living in the present, not the past or the future. After Matthew died, my husband and I took a series of meditation classes. In one of the classes, the teacher asked us to think about if we were past thinkers, present thinkers or future thinkers. I had never really given that much thought and quickly realized that I was a future thinker. I realized that I was always planning ahead, making "To Do" lists and thinking about tomorrow, rather than today. The result was that I was missing out on a lot of the present. So since then, I've tried to make an effort to think in the present--to just BE in the now. It's not always easy, but when I do it, I find that one of the byproducts is that I'm so much more grateful. Mindfulness heightens my awareness of life-both its preciousness, as well as its fragility.
One thing I've noticed that works for keeping me in the present is savoring the moment through my senses. When I make an attempt to savor things through taste (a good piece of dark chocolate), smell (challah in the oven), hearing (birds in the morning), touch (the feel of flannel sheets on a cold night) or sight (a particularly stunning sunrise) I feel tethered to the moment. My thoughts don't wander forward or backward. It may sound strange, but savoring things helps keep me centered. I've also found that it's not such a difficult thing to incorporate a little savoring into your daily routine.
So to end these rambling musings, here's a quote from one of my favorite "grief books" called Grieving Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping with Loss by Sameet M. Kumar. My copy is pretty dog-eared, as I've kept it close at hand over the past year. There's a lot in it that is applicable to all different types of loss/grief. Anyway, this quote spoke to me the first time I read it, and continues to speak to me today.
Mindfulness is an awareness that arises as we pay attention to purpose, nonjudgmentally, to unfolding experience in the present moment. The way of paying attention is crucial. Mindfulness is sensitive, warm, friendly, compassionate and allowing. Mindful attention does not try to change what is happening. Instead, it reflects--accurately and precisely. Being mindful means being a witness to, and connecting consciously with whatever elements of our life that are present now, in this moment.