–by Guri Mehta (Sep 28, 2012)
Sometimes common phrases in a language can really provide insight, into the mindset of a culture. For instance, in English we often use the phrase, “It’s been a long day.” We’re all well aware that each of us is given the same twenty-four hours a day. But when I say, “It’s been a long day,” I’m trying to place what is happening with me internally, onto something that is outside of myself. It draws a clear line that it was the events of my day that made it long, not the way my mind treated them.
The reason why I’ve been thinking about this is that I’ve been trying to have a perfect day for about a month and a half. I’m amused by the idea myself, but it wasn’t a conscious choice or something that I put on my to-do list. A part of me just figured that if, that was ever going to happen, it would be now where I have the most control over my schedule (somewhat).
What is a perfect day? For me, right now a perfect day revolves around my work and spiritual practice. In short, getting things done that need to be done; perhaps even more importantly, leaving things aside that don’t add a significant value to my life or others. And of course the usual exercise, eating healthy, and so on. On most days, it’s quite a full schedule. But I don’t think that busy-ness was the biggest obstacle to my perfect day. I’ve come to terms with the fact that, being productive is actually really important to me. If I had a chance to just lay on the beach and read a book. I would probably be exhausted after the first day. It’s kind of pathetic really, but that’s just who I am at this point in my life. I actually love what I do, and often feel privileged to have an opportunity to be involved with meaningful work.
However, the mind has its own habit patterns; the biggest blockage for me was the feeling of never having enough time. I was carrying around the mental residue of how much there is to do, which automatically sends the mind into a mode of scarcity. That overwhelming feeling instead of forcing me to work harder, actually worked against me. Instead of being regenerative, it started depleting my energy, and allowed unwholesome practices to seep in like, drinking coffee to get things done, or even worst, distractions that were more fun.
Sometimes you just have to experience the sunshine of the day, to recognize the darkness of the night. Without a hint of prior warning, I found myself stumbling onto a perfect day yesterday. I recognized that more was done in a day, than I could do in almost a week. The types of the things on the schedule were the same as always. Instead of pushing to get through the work, there was just mindfulness of one action, followed by another. There was a quiet remembrance that I want to do this, and this is exactly where I’m needed, throughout the day — which allowed the mind to shift from scarcity to abundance. An effortless energy was just flowing through; there were no hooks for the mind to place its hat, it just kept moving along. In place of stress, there was a calm, gentle feeling of being refreshed.
As I woke up this morning, trying to figure out why yesterday was so different than other days? Why I didn’t feel like it was a “long day,” even though so much occurred? I can only infer that the underpinning cause perhaps was that there was no one there to feel tired, attached, proud — somehow, somewhere along the way, the doer – disappeared. Even if that vanishing act was only for a day. Perhaps that sense of “I” is the foremost obstruction to having — a fine day.
Guri Mehta in The Art of Everyday Enlightenment.