An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
An add for television streaming service Hulu states, “Every minute of every day should be considered prime time.” This clever quip has a double meaning. On the one hand, it reflects the tyrannical notion that every experience that we have should be exciting, entertaining, and novel. On the other hand, it embodies the wisdom that all we have is the present moment, therefore it is prime time.
Mindfulness is an essential tool for living our lives in prime time. As I have discussed before, holidays such as Thanksgiving mark that particular day as “prime time.” It’s the day to be thankful, express gratitude, and be with loved ones. My observations, however, see it more as a sanctioned opportunity for gluttony (guilty of this myself).
There is a paradox here. Each moment is precious and at the same time it is no big deal. No one moment is any more valuable than another (although something significant may happen) and when we can set aside our expectation that the moment should be special, extraordinary, or exceptional in some way, we can enjoy it more.
It’s a worn cliché that live must be lived now and not at some distant point in the future, like when the kids are grown or when you retire. Each second that passes is a second closer to our eventual demise. We know we should try to make the most of each moment but life often conspires against this. Life is impossibly busy. We are stressed, overwhelmed, and tired. We know we should slow down but have you looked at the kids’ hockey schedule?
Now often feels squeezed, pressured by relentless to do lists. As the holidays approach, these demands ratchet up. Can we even remember to savor the moment? How can we make more of our life prime time?
Mindfulness practice can help. If you can, practice daily: 20, 30 minutes or more. These formal practice sessions will spill over into the rest of your life.
If you don’t have big chunks of time, take smaller chunks. Do a one to three minute practice. You might find cracks in your day that you otherwise fill with interacting with your smartphone. Instead, do some breathing meditation.
When the day does not permit even brief practices (and even when it does) piggyback your practice onto activities that you are already doing like walking and driving. Instead of going over your to-do lists and rehearsing real and imagined conversations, attend to the sensations of the moment while walking.
When minutes aren’t available you can also practice in seconds. You will get benefit from punctuating your internal dialogues with moments of presence. These moments may not eradicate the busyness of your mind but they can help to keep you from going off the rails.
Each moment of mindfulness throughout the day is a bit of prime time.