If there is one healthy habit that I want to form, it is to sit quietly for at at least 10 minutes every day—doing nothing but focusing on my breath and practicing being in the moment. Being mindful of my surroundings. Calming the constant stream of thoughts, ideas, wishes, and regrets rushing through my mind.
You might call it meditation.
There was a brief stretch of time perhaps a year ago when I did this, and it was amazing. However, a life interruption happened and I fell out of the practice. Probably because it had not yet become a habit.
The other day, determined to get back in the habit, I sat down on a favorite ottoman in the living room and closed my eyes. The timer was set for 10 minutes. My husband was out for a run. My daughter wouldn’t be awake for hours. Everything was going to be perfect.
Three seconds later, I had a dog in my lap. Oh, I forgot about Sophie. Normally, I would meditate much earlier before she was even out of her kennel, but that’s not how it had worked out this particular Sunday morning. Perhaps I could just sit and pet her and focus on my breath at the same time.
This worked for about two minutes. Then she was ready to play. She went over to her basket, pulled out a toy, and came back over to the ottoman. Time for fetch! Instead of being irritated that Sophie had ruined my quiet time (OK, there was a brief flicker of irritation, which I acknowledged and let go), I remembered a post by Leo Babauta that I had read recently. He writes about “leaving it all behind” when starting a new activity or conversation. Meaning, being completely present in the current situation, without bringing baggage related to other projects, other problems.
It was a reminder that mindfulness can be a part of any activity. So I looked into Sophie’s eyes, asked her to drop the toy, and hurtled it across the room. She chased after it and brought it back for another round. I found myself being completely immersed in our game, and before I knew it, it was over. Sophie had moved on to other things (probably licking herself).
I reset the timer and continued my quiet time.