A missive about keeping our lids on

Dear President Biden,

Most weekday mornings my routine involves getting up with the dogs to feed them and let them out in the yard to do their things before heading out for a solo walk, usually in the dark. When I get home I typically turn on the electric teakettle and then sit down for a brief meditation time where the idea is to empty my mind and watch my breathing until the water boils. Like I said, it’s brief. Most mornings I might be focused enough to be able to honestly say I “watched” about 10 in and out breath cycles, though only rarely would this include more than three or four consecutive cycles. Despite having meditated for years and years for differing lengths of time, I’m a lousy breath watcher.

All this is to provide you with some context for the rather fun, to me, insight I had this morning. While I was half listening for the increased urgency of the teakettle water heating up the phrase “a watched pot (kettle) never boils” popped into my head and from there the idea that “a watched mind never boils” pushed forward. I know it’s silly but it’s also kind of cool in a nerdy would-be meditator sort of way.

In case the nuance here isn’t landing with you, there are two basic aspects to it. First, there’s the irony of juxtaposing the idea of being super impatient waiting for one’s water to boil with the notion that one of the benefits of cultivating mindfulness is that one learns to be present for and open to each moment rather than wanting moments to hurry up and pass. Second, there’s the basic idea that if we’re aware of what’s going on with us and what our minds are doing, we can head the boils off at the pass rather than be swept up in whatever strong emotion might grip us.

I know it’s not much of an offering but maybe it’ll be a little bit useful to someone there in your camp. My sense is that you’ve got the mind watching thing pretty much down and don’t need the tip yourself, but maybe the quippy phrase – “a watched mind never boils” – will come in handy sometime. I mean, it’s not bad.

May we be safe and free to roam in our own minds.
May we be willing to poke around in said minds on a regular basis even if it’s sometimes really hard.
May we be strong and stalwart when we find things in there we’d rather not face.
May we accept that settling in with our real selves is probably the healthiest way to keep our proverbial lids on.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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