The other day I was rushing around, distracted and in a hurry to leave my house, and I very quickly and somewhat mindlessly grabbed at my keys. Whap! Ouch! While my fingers were stinging from the collision, the keys knocked halfway across the table, I began to appreciate how mindfulness is the art of being gentle.
Its very tempting to try to speed things up in order to “get more done,” but it seems that this approach often leaves us with hurt fingers and keys further from reach, both literally and metaphorically. This is where the art of being gentle comes in. Being gentle is noticing when you are rushing and choosing to slow down a bit, to “pick up the keys” with patience and precision. It is an attitude of feeling grounded and friendly, willing to experience life rather than trying to force or control your life. Where rushing creates a sense of panic or claustrophobia, gentleness is like a relaxing breath of fresh air.
Gentleness includes being aware of your environment : noticing things as they are. For example, paying attention to the details of picking up your keys. Where are the keys? Where is my hand? How fast am I moving? How fast do I need to move? When you are mindful of your environment, you are less likely to bump into things, drop things, or make a mess. You are also less likely to be harsh or critical towards yourself when mistakes do happen. You can be gentle with everything in your environment, including your keys, your body, your time, and your own state of mind. When you treat yourself and the world with gentleness, you are practicing mindfulness.