When walking, walk. When eating, eat. -Zen Proverb
Like many people who have chosen to live a more conscious life, my path to conscious living had several different beginnings, in several different places. In my early 20s, a developing consciousness of politics and a voracious appetite for documentaries provided me with awareness of the reality behind many situations I would have previously accepted as truth. In my mid-20s, a change in eating habits led to more awareness, and conscious choice, of what I was putting in my body. In my late-20s, an extended trip abroad opened my eyes to the different lives, values and rituals, leading me to question some of my own. In my 30s, the transformation from individual to mother, revealed many of my faults and how they would adversely impact my children if I didn’t work to consciously change them.
All of these paths have led me to a place where I am more aware of the effect people, food, “things,” media and past life events have on my current life.This path has helped shape my values and cultivate habits that reflect these values – leading me to a life I am proud of.
But although, I am proud of where I am and the choices I have made (that are right for me and may not be right for others), I feel that I am ready for the next step, and that is not just a conscious life, but a more mindful existence.
The most difficult part of beginning a more conscious life, I am finding, is remembering to stay conscious. So often I will find myself at the end of the day, thinking, “Did I remember to live consciously?” And more often than not, I find that I lived the day in a typical mix of consciousness and autopilot, rarely conscious of my desire to be so.
And so I started repeating variations of a Zen Proverb – when walking, walk. When eating, eat. – throughout my day. And I started to live more consciously. Typically when I walk into my messy kitchen, I immediately begin thinking, What can I do while I wash the dishes to avoid being aware of the fact that I am washing dishes? Who can I call? What can I listen to? But instead of acting on my thoughts, I started to repeat, When washing dishes, wash dishes. And it worked. I just washed the dishes.
And it when on throughout the day:
When cleaning up the toys, clean up the toys.
When cooking, cook.
When playing with my son, play.
When driving, drive.
I didn’t remember to stay conscious the whole day, but it did help to remind me of my intention to stay conscious more than a typical day. And for me, a little progress is enough to celebrate right now!
What about you? What draws you to a more conscious existence? Are there any mantras, routines or rituals that you use to remind yourself to stay conscious throughout your day?