Sunday, February 13, 2011

To Be or Not To Be

A New Kind of List

It is Sunday afternoon and I can feel my mind and my body slowly moving towards thoughts of Monday. At first, it’s like a tiny speck in the distance. Then, like a slow train that picks up speed, the hours melt by and suddenly Sunday afternoon has turned into Sunday evening and my to-do list begins to take shape at a fast and furious pace. The weekend is coming to an end and I find myself gearing up for the responsibilities and fast pace of a full new week. “It is over”, the brain says and my body responds with feelings of tightness, agitation, and resentment. Our fast-paced living demands a To-Do list. Checking things off as they get completed is a sign of success in our culture. But is this the only way?

I was inspired when I came across the book “Your To Be List: Turn Those Dreaded To-Do’s Into Meaningful Moments Everyday” by Lauren Rosenfeld and James McMahon. The authors suggest that we turn inward and become quiet and mindful. Instead of asking “What do I have to do today?” it is important to contemplate the following: “What kind of person do I want to be today?” The actions on the To-Do list are really secondary. It is important to first create a grounding, a base on which to stand before we proceed with our list of responsibilities and activities to complete. It is this early morning practice that sets the tone for the day.

On a recent morning, I prepared for my meditation with this practice in mind. This is what my To-Do list looked like: finalize lesson plans, teach, make photo-copies, go grocery shopping, walk the dog, take mom to the doctor’s, return library books, respond to e-mails, cook dinner….and the list went on. As I breathed deeply, I returned again and again to the question and asked myself “What kind of person did I want to be on that day?” After a few minutes, I noticed that there a softness began to develop around that question which was not present when I thought about my To-Do list. My To Be list felt warm and loving and my body responded by relaxing and letting go of tightly held tension and anxiety. I wanted to be inspiring. And my lesson plan preparations became less mundane. I wanted to be a loving presence. And the doctor’s visit with my mom turned into an opportunity for a few moments of wonderful, shared conversation. I wanted to be giving and the errand of returning library books became the idea that I would be sharing the wonderful words that I had read in those books with others. I wanted to be nurturing and the preparations for a healthy dinner evolved into a meditation of love and healing for me and my family. The errands on my To-Do list still got completed. But the intention behind the action had changed and quietly shifted the way I viewed my day, my responsibilities, and my life.

Each morning is a brand new day. Why not experiment and ask, “What kind of person do I want to be today?” and notice how the next 24 hours can be transformed. Life is not perfect, but deciding how we want to show up for it can generate a more positive and mindful experience.

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1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful contemplation. Adyashanti say it like this." Be still and listen, and let the moment clairify its self!:-)Me too think a lot of that these days!Love Linnea