During the cold winter months, our woodstove becomes the focal point of our daily rhythms. We stack and carry logs, feed the stove throughout the day, and frequently clean up debris from the kindling.
Today, while sweeping, the taste of contentment visited my heart. The broom is a short-handled one, so I fold over at the hips to sweep. The area to be cleaned is also small, just one little raised section of tile around the stove. For a gleaming clear moment, as bristles trail across ceramic, all seems well - the sense of body gently moving, the seeing of colors and forms, and the hearing of broom-bristles trailing over the floor. Nothing special here, but tuning into the sense of quiet contentment gives my heart whole worlds of peace, independent of the bustle of the day, somehow unrelated to the brush strokes and the wood dust.
It’s a work meeting scene… We sit at a small conference table, two colleagues who are also friends, fellow human beings for whom I feel respect and care. We are exploring, figuring out, feeling our way around. We are questioning: how to proceed?
We are working on a project I care about. In some moments I sense my heart subtly squeezing up, when the ideas in the room seem like they may take things in a direction I’d prefer they not go. Other moments, my heart leaps up invisibly, I hope, imagining the work may go well, for me and all concerned.
Somewhere quietly in the background, independent of this relational work process, untouched by the possible successes and failures, there’s this steady sense of okay-ness. Contentment simply shows up, participates the conversation, listening and speaking, waiting patiently to see where we flow naturally. It’s like a river finding its way through the land, with nature rightly in the lead.
This morning I dropped my daily vitamin on the kitchen floor. I heard it clatter on the linoleum for a moment, clicking along to rest near the microwave stand, small yellow pill standing out from the brick-red floor. For an instant, a flash of irritation moved through me, asserting, “It should not be this way!” Then, a quieter remembering, oh, yes, but look here now, it is this way. Vitamins sometimes fall on floors. It’s gravity.
Once again, contentment flows into my heart. Things don’t need to be perfect! Stooping over, deciding to use the “five second rule” and eat the vitamin anyhow – there’s nothing special here either, except perhaps the joyful recognition that contentment has some good friends: gratitude, appreciation, patience.
Has contentment visited you lately? In my experience, mindfulness practice tends to invite these unexpected moments of serenity. Have you noticed this too? It would be fun to hear about your experiences.
This blog post was originally posted at UMass Medical School CFM Home