Time Off Through Time On

I am lost in writing when Cheerios puts her front paws and head in my lap. My initial irritation at the interruption is quickly followed by awareness of her need for attention, and then the pressure in my bladder I have been trying to ignore. Petting her, I get up to go to the bathroom. As I pass the laundry I remember the ‘permanent press’ shirts I should have taken out of the washer an hour ago–now likely permanently wrinkled. At the same time both the door bell and the phone begin insistently calling to me. Another of those moments when I think of the phrase and title, ‘Stop the World I Want to Get Off.’

Modern life is full of such moments when we are juggling so many things that we feel overwhelmed and long for some time off. So how do you find time off? Actually for most of us, if we want time off, the question is more how do we make it happen. For me, meditation is often the answer when I think to do it.

Meditating this morning I went to a familiar place, where I was drifting between following my breath and the unattached trains of thought that were emerging. Some loud sound outside made me conscious of how relaxed and peaceful I felt. Yet I had been drifting amongst thoughts instead of just being in the room, attending to my breath. Rather than dragging myself back to the breath, this time I luxuriated in that peaceful place, aware of the breath but not any more than of anything else until my mind wandered off again.

Following the breath is a meditation technique, a tool working toward being fully present. Yet when I truly let go there was just being. The breath became part of what was, rather than a technique, and the wonder of the moment was available. This was one of those times I was able to be consciously in the miracle of being without needing something spectacular like seeing an incredible sunset, hearing uplifting music or feeling some powerful emotional rush to draw my attention.

Much of my time is doing things, waiting to do them or wondering what I can or should be doing. Taking time off too often becomes finding either other things to do, or ways of mind numbing spacing out. “Resting in Mindfulness” is a healthier alternative I often have difficulty grasping. When I can ‘take time off’ from doing and thinking, to have ‘time on’ by being truly present and awake in the moment, that is resting in mindfulness, and far more restoring than TV, some computer game or other distraction.

This entry was posted in Being Present, Buddhism, Meditation, Pets, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Time Off Through Time On

  1. Jim Gordon says:

    Where’s the “compassion” part?

    • Hey, have you been looking over my shoulder? The blog title is Truth and Compassion, and somehow I have not been writing enough about that side of the equation. I have started writing my next one with that focus.

  2. Ofra Faiman says:

    I noticed that when I sit with my eyes closed , I tend to ” rest too much” and lose my alertness to the moment . I started meditating with my eyes open, fixed on one spot ( not rigidly) and that keeps me more awake and present . I am going to continue my meditation with my eyes open. You????

    • I usually have my eyes half open when I meditate for the same reasons you mention; it is easier to drift off, sometimes to sleep when they are closed. Sometimes I switch during a sitting between eyes open and shut. Another thing I do when I feel too sleepy is take two or three deep breaths, pushing out deeply on the exhale. That tends to revive me.

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