Just keep paddling

It’s so much easier to practice yoga and mindfulness on the road. When every sight is new and every day is a new adventure and new challenge. When each person you meet is someone you’ve never met before and quite possibly will never meet again. When every place you visit is someplace you’ve never been before and quite possibly will never be again. Through the real, physical, visible impermanence of everything travel, you really start to plug in and appreciate that what is here today really will be gone tomorrow and that you can always return to a place, but you can never return to the person you were when last you were there and the people you met there and the experiences you had at those moments. You really seize the day and take life piece by piece, as tiny precious morsels of taste and flavor you should savor and appreciate before they dissolve.

For me, it is so much easier to stay mindful, grateful and present when I’m moving and grooving and traveling and adventuring than it is to practice them at home, when life is more routine and the mundane to do lists are always there and you keep telling your partner to put their clothes in the hamper and they keep throwing them on the floor. And you confront your own semi-neurotic need to have things be tidy.

For me, that’s when the practice of mindfulness gets sticky.

How do we face our dirty dishes, mowing the lawn, the daily responsibilities of work and conflict with our loved ones, without running away? How do we face our lives at home without scampering off in a cloud of dust with a big ole beep beep like Roadrunner? For me, that’s really where the practice of meditation begins. In fact, I could give meditation practice for daily life a different title. Let’s call it:

Meditation: How NOT to run away.

Not only do I practice how not to run away, but how do we find contentment during the simpler and less grandiose times of our lives? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful and wonderful (if completely unusual) to have “simpler” times of life. But how do we truly learn to savor and enjoy the everyday?

There’s a book that I just love called Saltwater Buddha, and in this book, the author talks about his life surfing and his search for zen. At one point, he talks about the reality of surfing. Oftentimes, you see pictures of surfing and think it’s all catching big waves and doing cool tricks and all that. But catching big waves is such a teeny tiny part of surfing. There’s a lot more to it, like the falling, and the water up your nose, and paddling. Mostly paddling. To have the chance to catch a wave, you have to spend a lot of time paddling in the ocean. Paddling out to the surf. Paddling to stay in one place. Paddling faster to get up to speed to catch the wave. Just paddling. And that’s what most of life is. You have the grand adventures, the horrifying fears, the spectacular moments, but most of the time life just is. It’s just paddling.

So can we learn to paddle through our daily existence like the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day on the ocean? Or will we struggle and fight and miss our opportunity to catch that perfect wave?

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