So I've been wondering how I could combine the practical stuff (e.g. doing the dishes, getting groceries, cleaning up etc.) in a practice of mindfulness and by that do two things: Becoming more mindful. And actually start enjoying the things I dread doing (to call doing the dishes dreadful, for me is a vast understatement:). So when I was doing the dishes this morning unwillingly as usual, I thought to myself, why unwillingly? Let me take a look at that. Observing myself and my thoughts wondering what it really is, that makes me exert significant willpower to do it. So watching my mind go crazy as usual, within that stream of thoughts, I noticed something remarkable: I was wishing that I could be doing something else. It would be so much more fun reading a book, I said. Listening to music. Playing basketball. Meeting friends. Hell, even doing nothing. Instead I'm standing here in my kitchen dealing with dirt. Interestingly enough, I was not only thinking about what cool stuff, I could be doing instead, but also what other 'duties' were still waiting for me. So there I stand, washing the dishes, thinking about the miserable fact that after that I'll have to clean up my apartment. As if washing the dishes wasn't bad enough. So I sense: Fool's game! This has nothing to do with dishes, it's how I see it.
Having fully recovered from my flu, I'm finally back writing. And I'm happy to report, still engaged in my little and elusive quest for mindfulness. As I had mentioned in my last article, the relationship between mindfulness and happiness has become increasingly interesting to me. I cannot not say that I have found a definite answer, though I think I might have been getting a little closer. No, I'm not enlightened just, yet though a couple of observations and thoughts have at least helped me in understanding it better cognitively. Starting from scratch, what has happiness been for me? I'd say for me it's interchangeable with joy. When I'm enjoying myself - being in pleasant company or doing something I love for instance - I'd consider myself being happy. Vice versa, if I don't enjoy myself - for example because I have to do something, I don't like, or I'm having unpleasant emotions - I don't consider myself happy. So happiness according to this definition - and I think most of us see it similarly - would have sort of a fleeting element to it. Elusive. Temporary and subject to possible change (to unhappiness) at any point in time depending on conditions outside of our inner self. Where I think it gets interesting is when asking the spiritual practice of mindfulness on its take. It would probably have two things to say about that: 1. This isn't happiness. 2. Above all means, aim for happiness.
Chance has some funny ways to it. Having started my little quest for mindfulness, a friend told me about a course on mindfulness a local Buddhist centre is offering. No-brainer, I'm in! The first session I attended was quite interesting. Enriching mostly. Admittedly some odd stretches included (still not sure if I can get used to singing mantras). Clearly though, I was able to take away a couple of very valuable insights. Recapping my expectations going there: From the outset my understanding of mindfulness was based on developing an ability to get my thoughts under control, channeling them, eliminate the bad, welcoming the good. Getting rid of negative self talk, self-limiting thoughts, blames, doubtful voices, attachment to the past, lingering with respect to the future. All that bad stuff. See it, change it. Result: Be happy!No. As it turns out, this is not about ridding yourself of pain. Not at all. To tell you the truth, I was surprised.