For a lot of people I know, including my inspirational and beautiful mother and sister, baking and gardening seem to be effective conduits to inner peace while practicing productivity at the same time. For those of us who are multi-taskers, developing mindfulness in the midst of productivity is ideal. Sitting for hours with legs crossed and cramped whilst emptying out mind doesn’t necessarily work for us type A "doers" nor for those of us who can’t actually sit on the floor without intense discomfort.
Lately I’ve been thinking a fair bit about what activities bring me inner peace. I wish it were sleeping as it is for so many people since it’s a necessary evil anyway. Becoming enlightened and refreshed during sleep is really the perfect scenario, but given the insane threads of my dream life, sleep is something I would forgo had I the option. Upon awakening, I need to find some immediate inner peace remedies (like coffee) since I am a radiating ball of stress and nerves, rather than a well-rested, centered Eckhart Tolle devotee (all of which I aspire to be).
I also wish baking and gardening were part of my go-to repertoire for practicing peace, but they both bring me pain, namely in my back. They also emphasize how truly non-domestic I am. I used to envision myself as a Jane Granola type of gal: you know, the flower child who bustles around the house in her Indian flowy dresses always pregnant and flushed with a baby in one hand and a sprig of herbs in the other, with the smell of freshly baked bread aroma saturating the background.
The only problems are: pregnancy has never been on my bucket-list, and while I love the smell of freshly baked bread, I take no pleasure in making it; also, most plants wither at my glance. As for granola, I despise it.
At big family reunions, everyone would always be assigned a dish to bring ranging from my mother’s famous Napoleon torte to potato salad to zwieback and farmer sausage. Everyone would arrive with their Tupperware containers overflowing with savory or sugary goodness, and I would come bearing the napkins or the paper plates. (And this was way-back-when during the time when I actually did some cooking!) I was pegged early on for my non-affinity in household affairs. For those of you Mennonite readers, you know that this is tantamount to heresy.
Yes, I do tend to get stressed when I step into a zone where there are multiple ingredients or tools that are required to concoct a finished product: this includes papier mache, composting or even blow drying my hair with a brush and styling product. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just that I don’t really want to. It is operational overload. I won’t analyze why this is because it’s been 47 some years of not developing these traits so I don’t plan to try to change them now. The best course of action would be to get rid of some of my guilt about my non-doing of them.
So how does a person like me find inner peace in day-to-day tasks? During my medical leave of absence from work, I’ve happily confirmed that writing is my inner peace work; that I am one of those lucky people who can be a writer. (Whether I can make a living at it remains to be seen.) What I mean by this is that I have the stamina, the dedication and the inner peace that comes with losing myself in a piece of writing, whether it be letting the first draft pour out of me, revising and playing with what’s already been written, or copy editing for mistakes. All of those things rise me up to a level of inner peace and present-moment presence that few other things do.
One of the reasons I write this blog (aside from ego) is because it gives me joy to tap out little exaggerated vignettes on my odd little life, and pretty little sentences that might cause you to chuckle or ponder or say, “I could do that, too.”
The process of writing for me is a peaceful, happifying process. It is one of the few times where I don’t let my monkey mind mess with my mindful mind; I just let it all flood out and deal with the repercussions later during the editing sessions. Even then, I can easily laugh off the grandiosities and the mistakes and the non-sequiturs; I can press delete and come away with a published little piece for posterity.
I like to have something to show for my inner peace development. For us type A folks, an empty mind is not quite enough.