Both science and the universal knowing now support mindfulness as a proper route to decreased anxiety, depression, and all manner of distressed human chaos. I’ve taught mindfulness for about 10 years now, because I was told to by Marsha Linehan’s workbooks, which I was given when I worked in a state hospital psychiatric care unit for children.
Usually, a person just starting on their treatment path tolerates about 1/8 of 1/8 of a teaspoon of mindfulness practice, sprinkled over one hour sessions, one week apart, for about 6 to 8 weeks. And it may take up to a year for a severely anxious patient to tolerate 1/4 a teaspoon of mindfulness. Some people just plain tell me to F off. F is for fun.
The side effects, after all, are horrible. Not only does mindfulness practice render a person less likely to mount snarky defenses or the sword of ambivalence against one another, it actually befriends us with the mundane. Yes. Every tedious, interminable moment of our lives, without shiny escape or diversion.
Yes, mindfulness is actually nothing more than mundanefulness. It sounds like this:
I will stand right here, in this most minuscule of points on the planet, in my shoes – the same shoes I’ve worn hundreds of times. I like them because they are very bright pink, and yellow. I call them my pink lemonade shoes. But mundanefulness notices I’ve never noticed how incredibly squishy and comforting the soles feel against the bottoms of my feet. Mundanefulness shows me how the bottoms of my feet are connected to the sensation of aliveness crawling up both my legs, toward my lightly humming hips, which I now feel all in unison.
I will wash these potatoes. I will wash them slowly. And when my jaw starts to clench, and I start to rush the job, I will notice it. I will soften my jaw, I will slow my breath. I will slow my hands and arms, and my shoulders will come down almost two long inches. I will, mundanely, and maybe even lovingly, wash these potatoes to make this soup for my family. I will remember that I have potatoes, a family, and that I get to make them soup, because we are all here together, and warm.
Right here, in this place, I will do the very smallest things. I will do them slowly, and efficiently. I will breathe the whole time. I will take sips of water. I will smile. And this will be enough to fill me, in this moment. This mundane moment.
With this hard-earned, and greater appreciation for the smallest spaces between joy and wonder, I find the whole lousy thing is much more tolerable. This part I add with a smile, and a heavy knowing wrapped around my whole heart. Befriend the mundane, and you befriend the whole lousy, gorgeous mess.