Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The practice of lingering

Remember when you first fell in love and would linger on and on with a lover, no matter what needed to be done? Remember times when you acted out of pettiness at work and lingered in self-recrimination long after the damage was done? 

We’re great at hanging out in the highs and lows of strong emotion. But most of our moments are not highs or lows; they are quite ordinary and we rush right through them. In learning to linger in the complete ordinariness of our life, we may discover how very precious and satisfying ordinary can be.
Ordinary sunlight, ordinary water

How to get your linger practice in each day

The key is to choose something very ordinary—something that you’re doing anyway. Then either

  • Do that ordinary event slower than you would normally do it.
  • Pause at the beginning, middle, or end to notice and feel.

Practicing even a little throughout the day can infuse our life with a sense of “this is enough.”

Linger in the morning
*Cradle a cup of coffee or bowl of oatmeal in your hands. Maybe close your eyes as you chew or drink.
*Stay in the shower a few seconds longer than required to get clean. Feel and hear the water.

Linger in the afternoon
*Sit in your car before turning the key. Take a look at the world that exists beyond your windshield.
*Be the last one to leave a meeting. Take your time gathering your things.

Linger in the evening
*Stop before opening the door when you return home. Look up at the sky.
*Feel your feet warm as you snuggle beneath your blanket. Snuggle in even more.

May we all learn to linger in the perfect ordinariness of our life.
Brownies, blue plate, blue candle
Playthings, by Tagore

Child, how happy you are sitting in the dust, playing with a broken twig
     all the morning. 
I smile at your play with that little bit of a broken twig. 
I am busy with my accounts, adding up figures by the hour. 
Perhaps you glance at me and think, "What a stupid game to spoil
     your morning with!" 
Child, I have forgotten the art of being absorbed in sticks and mud-pies. 
I seek out costly playthings, and gather lumps of gold and silver. 
With whatever you find you create your glad games, I spend both my time
     and my strength over things I never can obtain. 
In my frail canoe I struggle to cross the sea of desire, and forget that I too
     am playing a game.