This is the second of 10 weekly reading assignments and kind action recommendations using the book “The Power of Kindness” as inspiration.
Reading: Read the chapter called “Mindfulness”
Read slowly, allowing the words to enter deeply rather than superficially. If you find you are coming to your reading as a chore, put the book aside. Come back to it later.
Kind Action: Be Fully Present With Another Person (Do What You Are Doing)
Your kind act this week is to be fully present, attentive, in an interaction with another person. To do this in the way it is meant to be done, you will benefit by practicing mindful awareness in as many of your actions as you can. Start doing this as soon as you can.
While you are practicing such mindfulness, your opportunity to engage with another person will come. Don’t try to go hunting for it as doing so removes you from the present and puts you in the future looking for something to come.
Let it find you. Trust that it will come.
Some Inspirational Ideas & Thoughts (from “The Virtue-Driven Life” by Fr. Benedict Groeschel):
“Enjoy what’s going on while it’s going on. If you go to the supermarket, enjoy it. Don’t make it drudgery. Talk to the cashier. Speak to the people at the fruit counter. Chat with a neighbor. Try to get to know people, get them to talk to you, and make your passage through life pleasurable. If you are a private person and find it a chore or somewhat difficult to speak to strangers, at least smile. Slow down. Smell the flowers as you go by, and then you won’t need too much of this world’s goods. Enjoy your work and you won’t need too much time off. Enjoy being at home and you won’t have to go away so much.”
When I first saw the title for this week’s topic, “mindfulness,” I thought, oh, boy, here we go. I always struggle with mindfulness – being “in the moment” – and in fact I’m just finishing a multi-week project on my blog in which I focus on one strategy per week to practice being in the moment (intent, noticing details, breathing, moving your body, etc.).
BUT, I didn’t think before about being mindful with one person at a time. So after I read the chapter, I sat down at the kitchen table with my husband over dinner, put away my crossword puzzle, set aside my smartphone, turned off the TIVO-saved episodes of ’60s TV, and told my husband that I had an assignment to just be fully attentive to another person during a conversation.
Well, we actually had a conversation that lasted more than 20 seconds and was NOT about the kids or the house! My husband is taking senior-access classes through the local university (where 60+ers can audit any course with open seats for a nominal fee), and he just started an astronomy course on the solar system. He filled me in on that day’s lecture, and told me about how the sun will start to dim in about 500 million years, to the point where vegetation will no longer be able to grow and animals would die out without artificially-produced agriculture. Microbacteria will take over again, just liked they did up to a couple of billion years before this (give or take some million-years). He even drew me a little diagram from professor’s slides in class!
It also felt better than I expected to not be thinking about, hmmm, who’s sent me new emails, did my daughter text me, what are the answers to the Tuesday NYT crossword puzzle, did I get that Jumble caption yet? I asked my husband how it felt, and he said, “It was fun!”