Kidnapped by swans
It is that time of year when New Years resolutions are made and broken. I know this because the yoga class I go to is always packed out in January. It thins out by mid-February though. Also there are lots of books published around Christmas which have an agenda – to make the reader ‘do something’; take up a new past time, de-clutter, or this year’s hit … be mindful. So ‘The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness’ seemed the obvious place to start. ‘Muck and mindfulness’ … has a ring to it; might be a good title for a blog some day. Amazingly my alter ego, Martin features heavily in this book. ‘By practicing mindfulness, Martin has found his inner peace, even though he is being kidnapped by swans.’ Exciting thought, and there is even a lovely picture of Lord Muck on some kind of throne heading skywards with a flock of swans clutching silken ropes in their beaks. Other parts of the book are a bit darker. ‘Clive likes to practice loving kindness meditation…Clive finds this easier than bothering to meet his friends or lend them money.’ Even more alarmingly, ‘Mindfulness has taught Leanne to accept things as they are; rubbish, expensive, unfair and out of date every six months.’ That sound suspiciously like a description of a new years resolution to me.
So does mindfulness involve buying lots of soon to be out of date stuff? All those colouring books, relaxation tapes and tracts on how to be mindful. Well yes…the implication is that purchasing them and retiring to your room to spend time with them is the path to something sacred and special, unless that is, you can afford to retire to a mountain top to practice, which is even better…. and even more expensive. All very West Coast/Marin County; something I satirised in ‘Spilling the Beans’, some 30 years ago. It is the notion that you need to ‘find time’ to meditate that really grates. Usually that actually means stopping looking after the kids or something else you want to duck out of. Not being one for the sacrilising approach, my ‘mantra’ for the past few decades has been ‘the meditation of every day life’. And what pray does that mean when its at home? Well, speaking of home… doing the washing up, cleaning the hens, hanging out the washing (my favourite, on a warm spring day… nothing better) hoovering (there is a certain strange joy to hearing those bits of dirt rattling up the nozzle and into the bag) and putting all the kitchen waste onto the compost, knowing that without doing a thing, it will be ready to spread round those vegetable seedlings in three months. That’s the joy isn’t it, knowing that you don’t have to do a thing – sun and wind will dry the washing and worms and insects will do their composty bit. As the Buddhist saying has it; ‘Don’t just do something; sit there’.