I went to yoga to learn why I love to read and write. Two weeks ago, I attended a class taught by accomplished yogi, Rolf Gates. A dear friend had invited me and even given me Gates’ book. I started reading it right away, and, by the time the evening arrived, I was truly excited to hear him speak. Like a star-struck fan, I was thrilled to just be in the same room with him. I knew I was going to learn something very important from Gates. I was right. It has taken more than two weeks to digest the lessons Gates taught us that night. But finally, this morning in the shower, it hit me: Mindfulness.
Put your palms together, and bring them to the center of your chest. Do you feel the surfaces of your palms lightly touching? Neither hand is grasping or covering the other – they are simply pressing together. Gates explained that this gesture is a symbol of mindfulness. It reminds us of how we should be with our partners and our kids – fully present, free from distraction, and focused on the other person.
This week I have done a poor job of being mindful. I have put too many appointments and errands on my calendar. As a result, I have spent too much time doing things that are not particularly meaningful or fulfilling for me or my family. I have been distracted and unfocused during my time with my kids. How silly – the primary reason I embarked on this sabbatical was to have more quality time with my children. Not only did I fail my kids, but I failed myself by not honoring my commitment to write daily. This week I have been the opposite of mindful.
In thinking about how I can do better in the coming weeks, I’ve realized that reading and writing have infused my days with meaning, fulfillment and happiness. For me, reading and writing are acts of mindfulness. They center and focus me. They bring me to the present and clear away all distractions. When I stray too far from them, I feel less focused, less fulfilled, and less happy. Reading and writing charge me with energy to be the best person I can be for others.
Thank you, Rolf Gates, for the lesson in mindfulness. The next time I sit down to write, before I place my fingers on the keyboard, I will bring my hands to heart center. Namaste.