Squirrels and mindfulness

Consider this:

Squirrels do not walk mindfully on this earth.

Shall I pause and let you reflect?

If you’re Tara Brach, who has been teaching Buddhist meditation for 35 years, this statement is just a tiny part of a discussion on mindfulness and spiritual awakening. 

If you’re me, and you’re attempting to listen to a podcast while stretching out at the gym, the thing about the squirrels is all you can remember.

We used to live in a neighborhood that had literally millions of squirrels.  They were everywhere, in constant, frenetic motion.  Occasionally you might see one sitting still for more than a second or two, but it was rare.  Sitting still for longer than that usually suggested mortal injury.  So I get why squirrels and mindfulness are a laughable combination. 

I’ve read a good bit about mindfulness, but haven’t been terribly successful in implementing it.  It struck me today that the image of squirrels’ frenetic activity is a perfect example for me of anti-mindfulness, whatever that might be called. 

I want to quiet the squirrels that are so often running around in my brain. My new goal is to be an Anti-Squirrel.  I don’t know quite how I’m going to get there, but I like that I have a visual reminder.  As I watch the squirrels in the backyard, hopefully I will remember to slow down and quiet my mind.  And maybe that’s really what Tara Brach was trying to achieve?


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