Entry 52: Reverent Care

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog

grey light drifts humbly through the window

my ears alert for early morning whispers,

breath quiet and steady

i hear the purposeful whoosh of

heated milk landing in the bottle

my palms blanketed by the warmth

i make my way towards the 

bedroom where you sleep, and

hold out the doodh

all ingredients melted into this 

moment of reverent care,

stillness

i plucked the guitar string from my essence

the vibrations echoed through the air

finding their way towards your heart 

know that it is an offer, only, 

you may resonate or be discordant

still, i stand here, 

arm stretched and heart open.

i offered simply because my deepest self wanted to.

Entry 51: The Path

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog

We may think of choosing a career path like choosing a train to ride.  

We arrive at the station when we graduate from college, 

We study the train map and schedule, to decide which is the ‘right’ train to get on.  

This decision is agonizing, we strive to absorb as much information as possible and figure out ‘where we want to go’.  

We decide, then wait on the platform for the train – the one that is destined for greatness – to arrive. 

When it arrives, we board it optimistically, feeling certain that the train and tracks will conspire to carry us to the exact destination we selected, at the time that was promised on the schedule.  

Our responsibility is to evaluate the train, and then choose to stay on the this one, or to get off and board another.  

But a career path is not a train we board to enjoy a ride. Imagine a career path like going hiking.   

When we graduate from college, we carry with us a backpack full of book knowledge and street smarts, warm blankets and extra socks.  

We approach the uncharted woods, and consider what direction to head in.  

To the right is a patch of evergreen trees, to the left a rocky downhill with a rushing river at the base. In the center, is flat land, with a mountain in the distance.  

We choose an initial direction, and then take a step, and another and another.  

Within each path, there are opportunities to shape your journey. 

After walking for a bit, perhaps we come upon a new clearing, a smaller hill, a field of flowers, or a lookout point.  

I suggest we pause to reflect and adjust based on our learnings and new visions.  

We walk not in straight lines, but in zig zags and pivots, climbing at times and descending at other times.  

We walk, hopefully enjoying the path as much as where we’re headed, and preserving our health and energy for what we hope will be a long and fruitful journey.

Entry 50: Richness

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog
The spoon 
Tings against the ceramic in 
Cadence like a small church bell
Warmth emanates to my hands
Smells of roasted oat and cardboard permeate my nostrils
Ribbons of honey and chamomile bathe my taste buds
The mug is ordinary, green, 
A cricket orchestra, a soundtrack to this 
Harmonious moment.
i committed to stay in silence,  
And should not be writing, but my 
Lips curled up in 
Joy and i had to 
Share it with you.
You do not need fixing, she said,
You are not broken
i believed her for that moment, my
Heart’s vision stretched to encompass every One
Richness
Opened towards Love
Compassionate threads in the 
Wholeness of Life

Entry 49: Bit By Bit

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog

A lump, gray, nondescript

But in my vision it is glorious

i lay my simple tool

On the gripping surface

Scrape away one sliver

Then another 

And a third

The lump changes only imperceptibly

i aim the tool to remove the excesses

Bit by bit

To reveal the form 

Enveloped within the clay

There is no short cut to its birth

Each bit removed 

One by one

By 

One

No use to celebrate after each

Or look forward to promised success

There is none

i can only 

Be here now.

Then, a feature is unearthed

From what remains

i stop to admire what became clear

Only with the loss of what was unnecessary

i do not own its intricate glory

i am the instrument

i welcome the pause

And raise my tool again

Entry 48: Are longer meditations better?

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog

In most areas of our life, we follow the American cultural norm that more is better.  A vacation lasting 7 days is better than one lasting 3 days. Winning a $5 lottery ticket is not as good as winning the jackpot.  Even in the realm of the arts, writing a haiku poem of 17 syllables does not garner as much social acclaim as publishing a novel.  And in my discussions with people who are building a meditation practice, we believe that 1 hour of meditation is more beneficial than 1 minute.

However, this is not how things are valued in meditation.  Meditation is about acceptance, and so if you meditate for one minute, that just is.  If you meditate for one hour, that just is. There is no purpose in comparing the relative value of the two meditation sessions.

But in our culture, we are trained to evaluate nearly everything we do.  We push ourselves to climb the imaginary ladder to receive the higher salary, to buy the larger home, and even to have a greater number of Instagram followers…  Similarly, with meditation, many of us may push ourselves to ‘succeed’ in meditation, but there is no governing body of meditation to define success. Absent a set of defined criteria, many of us look to the duration of a session to be a concrete way to judge the value of our meditation.

The meditation app Insight Timer has a feature called “detailed charts and stats”. A user can click into it to review metrics including minutes per day, average session duration, longest session duration and several others.  I believe they included these because statistics can be strong motivators for many of us to set and track towards a goal, and to challenge ourselves to do more.

However, what I found interesting is that on the main profile page, the most visible statistic displayed is number of consecutive days with at least one session of meditation.  It seems that if we need a measurable statistic to keep us focused on building a practice, this would be one to pay attention to.  Choosing to meditate each day of the month, even for a 1 minute session, will have greater benefit than doing a 30 day session on one day and doing nothing for the rest of the month.  Returning to meditation day after day builds a habit, and that is the power of a meditation practice.

Periodically I relapse to judging the duration of my practice. When I notice that I am holding that judgment, I loosen my grip on it, and gently tell myself that at least I made the time to sit on my mat, despite the fullness of my work, family and community activities.  When I consider this new thought, my jaw tends to relax, and I can take a smoother breath. My body loosens and settles to the here and now, even if just for a few moments until the next thought arrives in my mind.

So, the lesson for me has been this-  whether my practice is 5 minutes or an hour, I am more present just by letting go of the thought that a longer meditation would be better.  And being present is indeed the point.

Entry 46: Creation

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog
Sting
Pierces my eyelids
My nose runs, then my eyes
I pause the rhythmic chop of onion
To avoid sliced finger tips
On to the celery
Thinly sliced so it will
meld into the soup, with its essence in tact
Smashing garlic fulfills an
Urgent need in me
Awakens me
Potatoes peeled, chopped,
½ inch cubes
Placed in warm broth
Simmering and softening
I have never prepared this dish before
I am aware I cannot know how it will turn out,
All I know - I need to create,
Put myself at the mercy of larger
Forces -  thermodynamics, flavor, spirit and luck
I play my humble role
Greet each ingredient,  
Recognize its uniqueness
Then invite it to be changed
By its environment and neighbors
Into a new form
Recognizable yet altered
I contemplate:
Do I open to the reality of our
Connected existence
And allow myself to be changed
By my environment and neighbors?

Entry 45: What if: I am infinite

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog

I am infinite.  I am worth more than the size of my home, my salary, or even the money in the bank account.  I am more than the number of (facebook or IRL) friends I have, I am more than the number of activities that my children are in, I am more than their good behavior, and I am more than their bad behavior. I am more than the state of my relationship, I am more than the compliments from acquaintances. I am worth more than the number of people who ‘like’ this poem.   I am more than the good deeds I have done, and more than the mistakes I haven’t learned from yet.

I am more than the sum of the value of each of these things.  

That means I do not need to make things perfect or appear to be so.  I am what I am at this moment and it is enough.

I do not need to do things to make myself skinnier, more popular, richer, busier, more fashionable, more powerful, more well-read, more cultured, more witty.  

I only need to do what feels right at any given moment.  When I take away those doubts about my worth, I uncover love, for myself, and for everyone around me.

Inhale and breathe.

That means everyone in the world, is infinite. Everyone is worth more than their home, salary or bank accounts.  More than their Twitter followers, more than the car they drive or the gadgets they own. More than the clothes they wear, or neighborhood they live in. More than the language they speak, the color of their skin or their citizenship status.  They do not need to make themselves more skinny, popular, rich, busy, fashionable, powerful, well-read, cultured, witty. For me or for anyone else.

What if each of us started out our day believing we are enough as we are in this moment?  

Entry 44: Dear Rescuer (Golden Shovel)

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog

This is my first venture into using the Golden Shovel poetry form.  I borrow the final lines from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey, to end the lines of my poem, called Dear Rescuer.  I share them both with you here.

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

– Mary Oliver

 

Dear Rescuer

You need to feel pure, determined

To be seen as good, to

Work diligently to save

The vast troubled world. The

Global catastrophe only

Revealed that you built your life

Evading uncomfortable truths.  If you

Choose to remove the rose-colored glass, it could

Show you the world is not yours to save.

– Monica Biswas

adult anger art black background

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Entry 43: Mindfulness vs. Sense-fullness

AccidentalPerfectionistBlog

When I told my mom that I was starting a podcast on Mindfulness, she, being the research librarian she is, started avidly researching the topic – online and at bookstores. She came back and told me that mindfulness is “a big trend right now”.  

I agreed with her, but I reflected that there are a lot of common notions of mindfulness that I disagreed with.  Here are my beliefs about mindfulness:

  • Everyone can access mindfulness– you don’t have to be the Dalai Lama, a Zen master, priest, shaman, yogi, etc.
  • There’s no way to “do it wrong”. 
  • There’s no such thing as “not doing it long enough”. Sometimes one moment of mindfulness is what we get, and that is ok.  

We don’t have to be in a beautiful/tropical/quiet location in order to experience mindfulness.  

We don’t have to attend a week-long silence retreat in order to experience mindfulness.  An important corollary to that, we don’t have to spend large amounts of money to experience it either.  

My mindfulness journey actually started not with my mind, which was usually running 100 miles a minute with thoughts, judgments, schedules, to do list items, self critiques, and also anxiety.  The first experiences of mindfulness I felt were when I followed my senses. 

    • Tasting and savoring a bite of food on my tongue
    • Listening to the sound of the ocean and letting the sound waves (pun intended!) roll over my ears
    • Walking and sensing the soles of my feet on the sand
    • Smelling the scent of a flower in my nostrils

These were things I experienced without planning or forethought.  What I started to realize is that those sensory moments stopped me from focusing on the many other things around me –  I was in the moment.  And then I started to actively pursue experiences where I would use my senses for slightly more extended periods of time.

    • Smelling the aromas of dinner, and feeling the salivation before taking a bite
    • Breathing, and sensing the rise and fall of my belly and feeling the breath go in and out of my nose
    • Focusing on one body part at a time, sensing any tingling or tension or comfort in each one
    • Sensing food and water travelling through my digestive tract

The reason that I have not included “sights” in my examples, is that the sense of sight is frequently multi-tasking, and seems to me to be intricately connected to the part of our minds that is reacting, planning, and therefore can be an obstacle to experiencing mindfulness.  I do believe that it is important to cultivate mindfulness sight, but it is a difficult one to start with on one’s mindfulness journey.

Sense-fullness

Through these practices, I coined a term called Sense-fullness, a state of being when one is receptive to external stimulus through the senses.  

Sense-based activities can be an effective way to enter on a mindfulness journey.  I am not sure why that is – maybe the senses aren’t as judgmental as the mind/brain, and so we’re able to stay connected to the moment.  Maybe our senses are eager to do their thing and have us notice!

So, if you have had the thought, “I’m not doing it right”, try starting with sense-fullness activities. And remember that being connected to the sense for even one moment, is one moment more than if you didn’t start the practice.  Do not critique yourself for the judgment that it’s not long enough.

Try a sense-fullness practice

Pick one of the senses: hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling.  Think of an experience that will allow you to use that sense prominently, and if possible, close your eyes while you do it as it may heighten the other sense.  Some examples:

    • Taste – Eat a salty/spicy/sweet/sour food. Drink a beverage, like cold water or seltzer.
    • Smell – Sniff aromatics like herbs, essential oils, perfume, bath soap.
    • Hearing – Listen to songs a little louder than you normally would.  Pay attention to natural sounds like city sounds, birds, ocean, or the ambient sounds in your environment.
    • Feel –  Place something textured on your skin.  Your fingertips, like sight, can be a difficult place to start because they get lots of daily experiences. Try the skin on another part of your body (knees, cheeks, soles of the feet, arms, top of your hands, hips, etc)

As you are experiencing, passively notice the sensations.  There is no way to experience it wrong, so remember there is no judgment your brain needs to pass.  This is just the way your sense experiences its stimulus. If you try this practice, I would love to hear what you experienced.  Or if there are other sense-full experiences that you have had, please share those too!

Try the Podcast: A Mindful Moment

And if you are interested in a mindfulness podcast, try A Mindful Moment.  I share short and accessible mindfulness practices for those of us who are busy and can’t travel daily to an ashram to meditate.  Some of the practices are as short as 3 minutes!  Search for A Mindful Moment wherever you listen to podcasts, or click on the links to connect to it on your podcast platform:

And if you’re read this far, thank you!!  I know it’s quite different than my typical post on this blog.  At some point I may spin it off to a new location, but for now, here it is, on Accidental Perfectionist!