The best way to simplify is to reduce. I’ve been trying to keep the thought in the front of my mind lately. I was feeling anxious Friday night and Saturday morning. It was the typical anxiety loop, work, house, finances, parenting, when am I going to be able to finally go see The Martian? All the great concerns.
Anyway, those leaves needed to get taken care of so, I went out to deal with them. I got out there and after a few minutes, I thought to myself I can go grab my bluetooth headphones and listen to a podcast while I do this. I mentally reviewed my playlist and nothing jumped out at me as a “must listen to”. I thought about what was in the playlist further and decided to grab the headphones just to listen to something.
Were my headphones charged? They’d probably be half charged at best as I used them to listen to music at work yesterday. Where were they? Ah, yes in my drawer next to the keys. Then the simplification by reduction thought popped into my head. Is this what I wanted to be doing or thinking about right now? When was the last time I did something without any input. Can I be content just raking the leaves with an empty mind?
Turns out, I can. I spent 2 or 3 hours out there (including a trip to the hardware store) just by myself with only my own voice in my head. It was refreshing. I felt much better, the anxiety I was feeling is under the surface at least, if not totally gone.
The monkey mind is always chattering away in everyone. And at times the monkey mind’s chatter isn’t so nice. Why do we say such mean and terrible things to ourselves? Things we’d likely never say to anyone else.
Raking the leaves without other input that would wash over my monkey mind let me focus. Just being out there on the chilly and windy but sunny day let me put my attention on what I wanted, and in this case it was on nothing. I dumped out all the crap in my head I could and most of the monkey mind too.
It was meditative. I was paying attention to being mindful of the leaves, the dirt and all the dog poop. So much poop. Anyway, the wind blew the piles around a lot. Instead of falling into my anger cycle I just watched the wind take the leaves where it would with a calm ease. Then I raked them up again. No big deal.