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Where am I?


I am very much looking forward to leading a workshop in July at the Southern Alberta Permaculture Convergence. It will be called Scrubbing the Tub as Spiritual Practice: Opportunities for Universal Consciousness in Everyday Life. The subject is how to bring the awareness of our connection to all beings into the everyday work of cooking, cleaning, gardening, and caring for others. Fortunately, there are many practices developed over the years by various traditions that can help us in our current context.

Over the next months, I will be looking at some interesting texts that address this subject, and sharing them with you here. The first book I'll be reflecting on is Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children by Sarah Napthali.

Where am I? is the title of one of the sections of this book, a phrase that likely resonates with any parent of young children. Napthali puts her finger on the opportunity and the very real challenge of becoming more mindful and conscious while raising a child. On one hand, they are little buddhas, always living in the present moment and reminding us of the wonder that is really due for every leaf and pebble we come across. On the other, life is often consumed completely with the mundane; matching up socks, wiping spills, or trying to get your buddha into the car so you won't be late for daycare.

Napthali addresses the addictive nature of busyness and the ways in which our lives are compartmentalised into 'family or work time' and 'my time'. She looks to Buddhism for a way to "embrace all the hours of my day as part of my life." This involves practicing presence. She writes, "If I do not practice awareness of the present moment, then what am I practicing instead and is it helpful? I might find myself practicing resentment at the amount of housework. I might find myself entangled in angry, repetitive thoughts. Or maybe I'll practice daydreaming and fantasizing which, if done in excess, is a form of escapism and rejection of my life as it is now."

So this is my question for myself this week. If I do not practise awareness of the present moment, then what am I practicing instead?

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