A New Year brings new thoughts, reflections, ideas, and focus.  I use the word “focus” lightly, as I’m not one to get focused easily.  For me, the things I do are completely organic.  Like they have a life of their own and no matter how much I want them to get done, sometimes it feels like they conspire against me to be completed.  And so, in previous years when I think of what I want moving forward, of a word I might choose to focus on, the word “Begin” has been rattling around for me for the past 2 years.  The thinking for me has always been that I can avoid putting things off by just BEGINNING.  “Jump in and dig your way out,” my family would say.  Ironically I’m quite good at beginning….not so good at finishing.  I start projects, and then things happen and sometimes I don’t get back to them until much, much later..sometimes months, sometimes years, sometimes not even yet.  So perhaps “begin” is not the word to overcome procrastination.  Upon reflection I also note that “begin” is a “doing word”.  I am cursed with the “Doing Sickness”.  Always obsessing over what I must get done.  Feeling like I’m not doing enough.  It’s brutal pressure – all this doing, doing, doing.  No time for just BEING. 

So, as I’m ruminating on all this, I notice that a project I started in 2010 to paint my “Word for the Year – BEGIN”, based on Jill Berry’s Artfest project, can also be rearranged to “BEING”.  That’s a far better energy to put oneself in.  I know this of course from practice.  My creative work, once I settle in to it, is always from a place of mindful “being”.  It’s just the rest of my life (mostly my “monkey-mind” thinking) that is too easily hung up on doing.

Today as I was pondering all this I inadvertently stumbled upon a blog post – a project really, by Lisa at Life Unity.  It’s called the Wild Elephant Project.  She is working her way through a book called “How to Train a Wild Elephant and Other Adventures in Mindfulness” by Jan Chozen Bays.  It looks intriguing, and maybe something good for me to try….so I read on.  The first exercise is to “use your non-dominant hand for ordinary tasks each day.”  And, instantly resistance roars in my head, I feel my guts get tight.  My mind protests, “That’s ridiculous.  I don’t have time for that.  I have things I need to get done.  I guess I’ll just have to skip this exercise and wait to see what the next one is.”  Sigh…what can I say – I’m a work in progress.  I’m encouraged by the simple fact that at least I am aware in the moment of the nonsense of my own monkey-mind, and I catch it before it derails me….this time.  Determined, I will hang out with Lisa and her Wild Elephant Project for awhile and see what it might teach me…after all, I need all the help I can get…and there is such inspiration in sharing a journey with others.  Care to join me on a Mindfulness trip?

Check out Lisa’s project here.  Find the book here. How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness

Now, I’m off to a moment of BEING with my tea…drinking it with my non-dominant hand, of course.

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3 Responses

  1. Lisa

    YES. yes, yes, and yes. When I first thought about doing this project, I had been through several chapters of the book. On each one I thought, “Oh how nice…but I can’t really do that one. After all, I have to do this, and that, and how would I incorporate that practice?!” I started this project (the Wild Elephant project) in part to help me overcome exactly that same chatter you hear! I love that you share it honestly here. Allow me to be honest in return – this practice is definitely a PRACTICE. Already at the end of day 2, I find myself forgetting all about it…or making excuses why I need to get back to using my right hand.

    I hope the tea was delicious (whichever hand brought the cup to your mouth)…and I hope that you find exactly what you need through whatever bits of practice you are able to do! Thanks for joining me on this journey…

  2. CherylBM

    Thanks, Lisa. I SO appreciate the encouragement. I find it interesting that we all share the same inner turmoil, while on the exterior we look at others and assume they all are doing it better…..regardless of what “it” is. Going to try eating supper tonight with my left hand. ;o)

  3. Lisa

    I couldn’t agree more. I read once of someone wondering what life would be like if we all wore signs on our heads of our current turmoil. Walking down the street, you’d see someone with “Divorce” above their head or “Financial troubles” …. It is interesting when we see everyone for the stories they…and we…are.

    Good luck with dinner tonight! (I’ll admit again – I am drinking my glass of wine with my dominant hand. I’m not tempting fate here.)

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