Can you believe we’re half-way through the year and almost half-way through our mindfulness practices? To be honest I don’t think I would’ve realized we’d come this far had I not looked at the calendar and then at the chapter number in Dr. Bay’s book, How to Train a Wild Elephant. Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing great!
How did your practice go last week? Were you mindful during at least one meal or snack to take one bite at a time? How did it feel to eat slowly and mindfully? I know it’s a hard habit to break, especially if you’re doing something else while eating…like watching TV (ahem, me) or reading or talking to friends.
Sometimes practicing mindfulness reminds me of having two characters (little Buddhas?) sitting on either shoulder. One will remind me to engage in my practice. The other will tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing. Usually the tiny mindfulness Buddha wins.
This Week’s Practice: Become Aware of Endless Desire
This week’s practice is to become mindful of the arising of desire. Now, now, this isn’t what you think. Yes, I thought it too when I first read the title. Desire = sex, love, food, pleasure. Certainly that form of desire is part of what we’re aware of. But this practice is about more than shall we say carnal desire. Consider this example:
Your alarm goes off in the morning. What might be the first thing you wish you could do? You might wish or desire more time to sleep.
You walk into your kitchen. What do you do you desire, tea or coffee or a cinnamon bun?
Now, there is nothing wrong with desire. Desire keeps us alive. If you didn’t desire food or drink, you’d starve and die. Yet where desire can get the better of us is when we cling to its pleasure. So, if you desire ice cream and you eat the ice cream and then tell yourself it was so good you deserve another serving, then desire starts to control you and direct your behavior.
Becoming aware of desire helps us to make conscious decisions about whether following that desire is wholesome or not. Desire can be pleasurable. Satisfying your desire can also be disappointing. It is the disappointment that causes us to always look for the next great thing. You see what kind of circle we get ourselves into. It is this restlessness that causes suffering and dissatisfaction.
This week, become aware of desire. Observe your response to desire. Does it control you? Can you simply let it go?
Reflection: Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires. –Lao-tzu