I have read that we have 90,000 thoughts a day. A majority of these thoughts are habitual or what some have called our ego or conditioned mind. Too often we find ourselves controlled by what happened in the past or what we expect or hope will happen in the future.
So, since we cannot stop thinking, how do we prepare or guide our always chattering mind? Many people read or view positive affirmations from their favorite spiritual thinker several times each day. On the physical form level; this is an attempt to get beyond mind (thinking) by using the mind. This is impossible, but that is not to say that one cannot get some meaningful insights. But our purpose in life is to become present or conscious by a very simple alert watchfulness. These conscious seeds (peacefulness) can be sowed (expected) in any experience or activity.
Recently I became sick because I was unconscious. And I was getting a bit testy after being sick for seven weeks. It started out as a cold, then the flu. Each visit to the Immediate Care clinic left me with a new illness. First, it was whooping cough or bronchitis, and then it was pneumonia. I have gone through one antibiotic and codeine cough syrup and am on my second dose of a stronger antibiotic.
What brought me back to health or easiness was two simple recent experiences of being consciously present while cleaning the house and making supper. Before these experiences, I thought if only I read enough spiritual books or listened or watched DVD’s or videos of spiritual sages or meditated often, I would learn how to be in this conscious presence. Another name for this is to be in the stillness or peacefulness. But, after 10 years of searching, I found myself no closer to this ultimate spiritual experience.
I guess the simple things in life do bring the most happiness or peacefulness; because it was the simple — making supper and cleaning our house — that brought this conscious presence that had eluded me for so many years. My beloved gently explained to my 12-year-old granddaughter and me the specific tasks of chopping onions, peppers, making the tomato, brown sugar mixture for the meatloaf, plus how to slice the red and yellow potatoes to be placed in the glass cooking dish immersed in garlic butter.
There was no impatience, hurrying or authoritarian directions. Each of us got a turn at chopping, stirring in the onions, peppers with our hands. Even the organic green salad preparation was a shared cooperative effort. We sat down with no television on. Oh, what a feast! We finished off with my beloved surprising us with a treat of strawberry shortcake from our beautiful Rogue Valley.
Cleaning the house has always been a very challenging domestic task that very often ignited both our egos. I have always felt obligated and very reluctant as we did this weekly duty. My grumbling to my wife that our cleaning was far too detailed resulted in her very pointed question, “Where is that love you speak of so often?”
This time she told me how much she appreciated my help, given all the tasks of raising our 12-year-old granddaughter. There was a shift that I cannot explain, but there was a quiet peacefulness, a cooperativeness that enveloped our polishing, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning. We found ourselves anticipating and helping each other. It was amazing that this presence (peacefulness) lingered throughout the evening and into the next day.
Jim Hawes, a retired Medford school teacher has published "Ageless Child" (Balboa Press. Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble) and is working on his second book, "Consciously Growing Older."