Sunday, June 08, 2014

Feel the Power

The message was right there in front of me, floating above the stream of hot air that blew through my fingers.

Feel the power…

I was walking up 69th Street last week when a total stranger suddenly crowded into my space.

“Hey, how you doin’?” he said.

I was momentarily surprised, but then I looked closer and saw that this guy wasn’t a stranger at all.

He was one of my buddies from the gym. I see him every flipping week.

He’s a big, beefy fellow with a crew cut and thick glasses, someone who most definitely sticks out in a crowd. Yet I had no idea who he was until he was right on top of me.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I said a bit embarrassed. “Sorry I didn’t recognize you.”

“You were lost in thought,” he said, gently dismissing my concern.

We chatted for a few minutes and then I told him to have a nice day.

“You made it better,” he said, and went on his way.

That was a very nice thing to say and I made a note to pass his kindness along.

But I was still upset at being so out touch that I hadn’t recognized this man as he walked down the block in broad daylight.

I was lost, all right, but it wasn’t anything like thought. I was wallowing in a fog of daydreams, confabulation, and just plain fantasy that had taken me far, far away from the real world.

And it’s happened two more times since then, with both encounters occurring at my local supermarket.

The first time I was walking through the dairy section when a guy stepped up to me.

“Hello, sir,” he said.

This man turned out to be a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen in a while, as he had gotten married and recently became a father.

Once again, I had completely blitzed out from the known universe.

Friend or Foe?

The last—and most embarrassing—incident happened a short time later in the same store—what the hell is it about Key Food anyway?—only this time I was in the fruit and vegetables section.

I was making my way toward a pile of apples when a woman inadvertently stepped in from of me. But I felt like playing the victim.

Oh, great, I internally harrumphed, she’s gotta come over here at the same exact time I do.

I did a little two-step around her and began helping myself to the apples.

And that’s when this lady looked right at me.

“Oh, hi!” she said. “We were in the meditation class together.”

I stopped and looked—really looked this time and saw that, yes, we had indeed been in the meditation class together.

That was the eight-week class at the Interdependence Project that was designed to make us more mindful, more present. And I had somehow managed to walk right by this woman without seeing her.

I could make the excuse that I didn’t recognize these people because they were in a different place than I’m normally accustomed to seeing them.

But that’s all it is—an excuse. They had all somehow managed to see me in these unusual surroundings.
Obviously I can’t expect the class to totally rearrange my brain. It was a great experience, I learned a lot about myself, and I met some wonderful people—even though I have trouble recognizing them.

But mindfulness is a lifelong practice.

The author Peter Matthiessen, who died in April, was a Zen priest, and he once said that “if you are truly aware of five minutes a day, then you are doing pretty well.”

I haven’t reached the five-minute mark yet. I’m not even close, to be honest.

But I’ve had these little breakthrough moments when I can see the Promised Land, when I am standing squarely in the present moment, not wallowing in the past or worrying about the future.

The most dramatic moment occurred in my gym a few weeks back. I was washing my hands while my mind pinballed all around my head, getting angry over one thing and fretting over another. It was complete chaos up there in my skull.

As I felt the blast of hot air hit my hands, I told myself to get mindful on the double. And when I looked down I saw three words written across the drier that summed up the whole mindful experience for me.

Feel the power.

Yes, exactly. Feel the power of being in the moment, of breaking free of all the junk that clogs your mind.

Feel the power of finding yourself after being lost in thought.


Ron said...

"And when I looked down I saw three words written across the drier that summed up the whole mindful experience for me.

Feel the power."

OMG Rob, I got chills when I read that! Isn't it something how we sometimes get messages, through either something visual or even words that someone else might say to us, and it's like 'sign' of something that we need to know?

Like you, I have to consciously tell myself to be in the present moment because my mind has a tendencies to run wild with thoughts of the past or the future. I'll stop myself and say, " attention NOW and BE in the moment."

Great post and great reminder for me, buddy! Thank you!

Have a super week!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, what's up?

Yeah, it's crazy when you see something that seems to be speaking directly to you.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to keep coming back to the present moment.

My meditation instructor said that it's the mind's natural tendency to wander, but I'm sure like to cut down on the mileage.

Thanks for stopping by, buddy, and have a great week!

cestlavie22 said...

I really love this. It is so hard to be in the moment sometimes. I am someone who is always living in the "what if" portion of my brain. It really sucks the fun out of the now. But I am trying to find some time for the now. Enjoy what I have while I have it.

Rob K said...

Hey, Shae, how's it going?

"What if" does really suck the fun out of now. Frankly, it just plain sucks.

You're on the right by enjoying what you have while you have it!

Thanks for stopping by and take care!

Bijoux said...

Well, I don't recognize people outside the usual surroundings OR remember their names. I'm going to blame it on age!

Rob K said...

Oh, no, Bijoux, not age!

Remember, we're not getting older, we're getting...we're getting...we're getting something, damn it!

v said...

loved, loved, loved, this post, rob. i read it while i was at work and i was sucked into my own world reading it. i have had people come up to me and i'm like who the heck are you. i too don't always recognize people outside of our usual surroundings or where i'm used to seeing them.

Rob K said...

Oh, Val, that's so kind of you!

Yes, people have a way of surprising us when they appear out of context. I'm just trying to be a little more present and a little less surprised.

Take care!

Stephanie Faris said...

So true! I wonder how often people see me and recognize me, yet don't say a word. I need to practice being more mindful.

Rob K said...

Hi, Stephanie:

It's so easy to get lost in our own heads. My meditation instructor said it's the mind's natural tendency to wander so we have to work at reigning in our thoughts.