By Marcee Murray King
I am going to make a confession here: I usually watch some instant-view mindless, inane TV show on the computer when I cook dinner. Try not to think less of me for this.
It is nothing more than “mind candy,” I say, no different than listening to a book on tape. Better, I tell myself, because it is so silly I don’t really have to pay close attention to it and don’t have to rewind (usually) if I miss something. Over the years, Xena Warrior Princess and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have been favorites, followed by Charmed.
My current favorite? Glee! As a child, when I lived with my grandparents, Grandpa Murray had the TV on from morning till night and so I have this particular fondness for it. This is why we have no TV in the living room, no cable or satellite. Our only TV is in our bedroom, and is only used for movies which are very rare in our house. My husband rarely watches anything and is (I tell myself…) rather horrified by my love of campy television shows.
As part of my fabulous 500 level yoga teacher training, May 1 we are beginning Swami Rama’s 30-day exercise to build our willpower. In his The Art of Joyful Living, he suggests that one develop 30 goals for 30 days and pick one for each day. Our school provided us with a list of goals to get us started, I read through them.
One of them is, “Allow your actions to come from conscious choice rather than as a result of habit.”
Habit? Right. My mind candy TV habit while I cook. So, last night, I decided I could listen to something that would make my mind better, stronger and break a habit for one night.
I decided to listen to Alan Watts, and the first one that came up that I hadn’t already seen was The Mind. It is about shutting the mind off, worrying, worrying because we are worrying, how our mind jabbers all the time and once we learn to think we cannot stop it. And then, I heard these words…
…and an enormous number of people devote their lives to keeping their minds busy and feel extremely uncomfortable with silence. When you’re alone, nobody’s saying anything, there’s nothing to do…this worry…this lack of distraction…and I want to get away from myself. I always want to get away from myself. That’s why I go to the movies, why I read mystery stories…I don’t want to be with myself… You are addicted to thoughts…
(Neti, neti, neti. I am not that. I am not that thought. I am not that thought thinking that thought.)
…and why, maybe, I listen to mindless television series when I cook? I never cook in silence. If other people are in the house with me, then it is music that is playing (I wouldn’t want them to know I always cook with instant view, right?).
I finished the video, closed the computer, and decided to cook the meal in silence. My mind started up then, obsessive in the silence. My very first thought was wanting to blog this up for The Tattooed Buddha.
Crap! Thinking! Thinking about the next thing. (“But really, it is so perfect to share because we all do this!”) Thinking about how I can’t stop thinking about how I want to share. Okay, maybe I can just text Dana right now and see what she thinks about me blogging this up… Stop thinking!
This was all a half hour after spending an hour and a half doing yoga, with forty minutes of that yoga nidra.
I had come downstairs, mind quieter than it had been all week since I had done yoga nidra last weekend. I was feeling blissed out, mellow, could hardly do anything but smile, mind blank. But, dinner needed cooking, and I was the one to do it.
Even I am surprised at how quickly my habits kicked back in: from blissful yoga nidra to automatically turning some background noise on.
While I couldn’t stop the thoughts, I didn’t let myself blog it up last night.
Habits. Breaking habits.
I saved blogging it for this morning. I didn’t text Dana then, but made myself wait until much later at night. And as I watched it again, getting ready to write this, I am amazed by my multitude of thoughts, noticing my habits, my ceaseless thoughts that I think serve me but don’t.
Later today, I am going to practice yoga nidra again, and then try to carry that silence with me, walking alone in the woods just outside my door.
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