As you may know, I have been taking pottery classes with my husband. The class meets one evening a week. The pottery is also available at other times of the week during “open studio”. Open studio doesn’t cost any extra. It is free time that is available to continue working on projects or getting additional practice. During the first quarter of the class, I didn’t use the open studio time at all. I thought about it, in passing, and then quickly told myself that I didn’t have time.
When presented with a new opportunity, I often tell myself that I don’t have time. I feel stressed and hurried. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, something unexpected and bad to happen. I’d better keep on the look out!
I find, however, that at the times I am most mindful and aware, there is a space between the opportunity and my decision. It is a space that says, “Why not?” It says, “That sounds fun.” Or, “This is a good chance to do x, y, or z.”
These are the times I treat time in a doctor’s waiting room as time to put on my earphones and listen to a guided meditation. I don’t have to spend that time being prepared to jump up for my name to be called. I will hear my name, open my eyes, and go to my appointment.
A couple of week’s ago, I was making yogurt in my pressure cooker. I knew that it had about a half hour left before I had to tend to it. My meditations are 30 minutes. At first I thought, “But I won’t be ready when the pressure cooker beeps!” Then I laughed at myself thinking, “I’d better keep myself ready for yogurt!” So I meditated for the 30 minutes and walked to the kitchen. The pressure cooker beeped as soon as I got to it. See? No yogurt was harmed in the making of my sanity.
As I continue to make meditation a regular practice, I find my life slowing down. I find myself more productive at work because my concentration is better. My first inclination is to fill that time with more work. Aren’t we supposed to be busy and overworked? Doesn’t that make us worthy and competent? Doesn’t this keep the bad things from happening?
I find that it makes me tired, anxious, and irritable. I am happy to report that this quarter, I find myself working at the pottery wheel during open studio about once per week. I even went twice last week, once on Friday afternoon. I had actually gotten my work done for the week so I took the opportunity of extra time to do something fun. Bad things have and will continue to happen in my life but not during every moment or even most moments.
There are opportunities every day and sometimes the sense of having no time is just a feeling. Feelings are real and they have something to say. But they don’t always communicate in the most straight-forward fashion. Sometimes, they are telling you to slow down, pay attention, and enjoy the moment. And having the thought, “I have so much to do!” is actually not the same as getting something done, no matter how many times I repeat it to myself.
Today you might get an opportunity to try something new. Perhaps you will tell yourself, “Why not?”
My first pot, started in September, was not what I had envisioned but then again, it was a step forward.
Here’s the pot I threw during last Saturday’s open studio.