Monday, June 5, 2017

Is mindfulness only for those who are single and 'free'?

As a new mom, one of the things that was a bit of a shock was how my 'monkey mind' (while already there) went completely berserk. It swung here, there, and everywhere, thinking of baby, myself, tasks, worries, when is my husband coming home, why is the weather so horrible, etc. Though pretty apt at multitasking, over the past few years I really made an effort to reel that aspect in my personality in. At my job I worked on one thing at a time whenever possible, neatly checking items off my to-do list after several focused time periods working towards my goal. 

Now at home with my baby, the knowledge that she may need my attention at any given moment has caused some major scatter of my focus while doing other things. Though I cringe at the stereotype of the 'frazzled mom' trying to get everything done and taking care of everyone but herself, I feel some of that creeping in.  

All this has made me wonder if mindfulness is a luxurious notion that can really only be achieved by the few who have renounced worldly desires, and is really hopeless for us laypeople. Thinking about the Buddhist leaders who have influenced my practice, most of them are unmarried men who do not have pressing family obligations. Though most are busy people whose time is sought by practitioners around the world, mindfulness and meditation is what they do, so they naturally must engage in the practice to advise others. While of course this is an obligation in and of itself, how can a 'householder' successfully relate to what Sangha leaders describe (and gently encourage laypeople to practice)?

Taking a deep breath and re-reading what I have written above (after starting the laundry, chopping vegetables, and organizing the diaper bag while my daughter naps, of course) the words that jump out at me in this post are 'achieved' and 'practice'. Unlike much of the tasks and ideas we encounter in daily life, mindfulness is not an item to be checked off a to-do list. Rather, it is a mindset and attitude that we use to approach those items that need doing- and that requires a lot of . . . you guessed it - never-ending practice!

Looking back, I realize now that my wistful (and sleep-deprived) thoughts of 'It feels like I will never be mindful again' indicated that I needed a little bit of a refresher to remind myself what mindfulness really is, and that it can be practiced and attempted (however clumsily or imperfectly) by anyone, anywhere. Whatever is going on in your life, all you really need is the present moment.

Do you have any thoughts to share about mindfulness and/or how you or someone you know may have struggled? Feel free to share in the comments below!
May all beings be happy!