Lay Your Shoes Straight!

Before you enter a Japanese home it is customary to remove your shoes and place them neatly at the door. You’ll notice it’s quite a common practice in many other cultures as well. As well as being very practical, it’s also a little symbolic gesture of respect and intention. Taking your shoes off and putting them straight is an early lesson in mindfulness. One of the things we try to do in the 8-week course is to to help bring awareness to the transitional moments in life, the bits “in between” where nothing much seems to happen. For most of us there is a problem here; maybe 90%, or more, of our time is “in between” and that is, potentially, a lot of moments of life that we are prepared to overlook. Mindfulness is really all about paying attention to every moment of life regardless of how meaningless or boring or unpleasant we automatically consider it to be. So, why don't you try doing something incredibly simple but potentially very powerful. As soon as you arrive at your front door, take your shoes off and LAY THEM STRAIGHT. That’s all. Don’t kick them off or leave them in a heap on the floor. (I have a big family and know what I’m talking about!) Just place them carefully and deliberately next to each other at the doorway. Turn the act of taking off your shoes into a tiny ritual to establish mindfulness for a few moments when you get home. What’s the effect on your mind of this little act of arrival? And what other daily activities can you transform into mindful rituals in the same way? Be creative and see what happens.

Donald MurrayComment