Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Dirt Road: Decay and Renewal

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

It’s early mud season. My dirt road is in a state of flux.The deep ice started to melt this week under the warmth of 80 degree sunshine. Parts of the road became wet, soft, and then rutted. The grating crew was here more than usual trying to keep it passable.

The dirt road can be seen as a metaphor for decay and renewal. The grating truck comes and the surface of the road becomes smooth–all the potholes, washboard, and ruts gone–but only temporarily. A few days later the holes reveal themselves once again. That smooth, loose surface becomes packed and pock-marked.

Life consists of thermodynamic decay–things move towards disorganization. The kitchen gets messy, the laundry piles up, the dust collects in the corners. Without applying an organizing force, things tend towards disarray.

Perhaps the same is true for our minds–they tend towards disorganization. Mindfulness practice is an “organizing” force. This organization is not orderly in the sense of putting things in rows or neat little boxes. Mindfulness is orderly in the sense of bringing a sense of coherence to the chaos of the mind. Coherence follows acknowledgement of what is happening followed by acceptance. Acknowledgment and acceptance are the action of awareness. We become aware of the chaos and it becomes “orderly” if only for a moment.

I was walking the road when the crew was here. Looking at the fresh exfoliation, I noticed that this brown dirt road was quite colorful underneath–blacks, blue, and rust. Another metaphor: there is more going on beneath the surface than we can appreciate with the naked, casual eye.

To get to that richer place underneath the surface impressions, we have to scrape in a systematic way. This systematic way could be mindfulness practice. We start at the mundane surface, and apply concentration, acceptance, and interest to find what is revealed–the revelation of unexpected colors, textures, and forms.

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