Socks on, socks off: the art of everyday life

Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 in Buddhism | No Comments
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OK, so it’s not quite as cool as ‘wax on, wax off’, but we’re not trying to learn karate here, we’re trying to master the art of living.

Most days, I put on socks. Most evenings, I take them off again. In between, stuff happens.

Craving peak experiences

Peak experiences are, by their very nature, rare. If they happened all the time, they wouldn’t be peak, they’d just be everyday life.

Socks on, socks off.

If we spend our lives craving and chasing after peak experiences, we aren’t present while our life happens. We get to the end without realising. By then it’s too late.

Believe me, I’ve tried non-stop adventure.

I once hitch-hiked around England, Scotland and France with a tent. I lived in woodland walkable from the side of the road and on friends’ floors. There were many amazing experiences, but in the end it got pretty dull. The fundamentals of life don’t change.

I’ve lived in a whole bunch of places around the UK, as well as spending months at a time in Australia, Canada, India, Italy, Spain and travelling from festival to festival with a bunch of lunatic Buddhists.

I got signed to a record label, toured the UK, got interviewed on the radio a bunch of times.

I lived in a yurt – carrying all my water from the nearest spring. All electricity from solar.

I’ve worked in central London for a whole bunch of big cheeses. I made large amounts of money advising massive corporations on how to make their websites better.

After a while, it all gets very ordinary.

Socks on, socks off.

Mindfulness in four postures

Buddhism teaches that we should cultivate mindfulness in four postures – sitting, standing, walking and lying down.

When you think about it, that’s pretty much all there is. That’s your whole life.

Life is mostly not peak experiences. It’s mostly just life.

If we want to live well, ordinary life is where that’s going to happen.

How we are in the ordinary moments of every day is, in the end, the life we lived.

A one-day practice

My suggestion for today is, be present during the ordinary moments.

Notice your posture, and notice when you move from one to the other. This will have an effect on your mind, on your emotional state

And more than that, you’ll actually be turning up for your life.

When we’re present in this moment, we can choose what we do with it.

When we’re on autopilot (which is easy to do during non-peak, ordinary life) we have no opportunity. We have no choice. We’re like zombies. The opposite of Buddhas.

So how’s about this: a one-day practice.

It starts when you put your socks on. It ends when you take them off.

In between, be present. When you notice your mind has wandered off, gently come back to an awareness of your current posture, and carry on with your day.

Watch who you are and how you are, without judgement. That’s you! Isn’t it amazing?

When you’re there for it, everydayness is actually pretty special. These small things are your life. They are unique and passing. Kiss the joy as it flies!

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