I haven’t been mindful at all lately. I chewed up my daughter’s Elmo fork in the garbage disposal, I keep making trips to the basement for things I forgot to get the last time I was down there, and I drove off with my lunch bag containing my phone, wallet, and lunch sitting on the roof of the car. It seems I spend a half hour each day meditating and the rest of the day overlooking things. Meditating is difficult and often boring work. At times it can be very unsettling. So why do I bother?
My relationship with my wife has made me think about this often. I met her years after I began meditating, well after the practice began helping me to manage my bipolar disorder, so she has never seen the worst of my moods or behavior. But she does see me often inattentive, forgetful, scattered, and inconsistent. My moods are no longer debilitating, but I am moody. And in my quest to have some control over myself, I can be a bit controlling. Little of this is very mindful, and yet I still wake up early or sneak away during a break in the day to put in my time on the cushion.
I review my life and its progress before and since I began meditating. I still get all wrapped up in something, a new hobby, a professional goal, an author, etc., and pursue it to the exclusion of other important things. Then one day it all seems so uninteresting that I drop it and move on to something else. I still fail at being mindful of necessity while chasing my flight of ideas. But my practice has helped me deal with other very big challenges that come with bipolar disorder.
Before I began meditating I was hospitalized six times and underwent a long course of ect treatments. Ever since I began a serious, disciplined meditation practice I have not been hospitalized once, nor have I been treated with anything other than medicine. I have held a job with the same company, progressing through positions of increasing responsibility, for nearly seven years. I haven’t even contemplated, let alone attempted suicide. I have a strong, faithful marriage and a daughter who commands and receives unconditional and attentive love. Perhaps most of all I am content with all of this. I feel joy. We all have our fantasies, but I am pretty satisfied to be right here right now.