1001 Mindful Things: No. 6 Volunteer

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ever have a moment when all of the threads of your life start to connect to form a really grand, exciting tapestry? It's a feeling of kismet, am I right? 

Work has been hectic recently and I have been really sick for the past two weeks, so I had to take a step away from several projects recently, including my Instagram Mindful Goat series. Now that I am starting to get more pep back in my step, I've started posting them again. When I am ill, I spend a lot of time glued to my electronic devices. I found some great new social media communities to be a part of, felt my spark reignited for physical fitness (after a two month hiatus), and found an agency I am going to start volunteering with. More to come on that later as the details get solidified, but it made me realize that volunteering is one of the most mindful activities that you can do. 



Volunteering is mindful in a host of ways. First, the very act of volunteering involves being mindful in service of others or something greater than oneself. It's a step, often literally and metaphorically, outside of the self. In one of my previous Mindful Goat Lessons, I posted about how giving to others often results in gift to ourselves through the rewarding feeling of service, generosity, charity, and humility. It's the gift that keeps on giving, because it ripples outward into the community. Just imagine that visual for a moment (hey, mindful activity!): A charitable service or donation ripples out, affecting the lives of others in positive, remarkable, and sometimes unknown ways. If you have seen the film, "Pay It Forward," you know exactly what I'm talking about. 



Additionally, volunteering is mindful in that we can lose ourselves in the here-and-now. Whether it's ladling at a soup kitchen, working up a sweat building houses, or even cuddling with needy foster kittens, in each of those activities, there is a moment just waiting to be settled in. When we allow ourselves to be in the moment, to breathe and smell, taste, hear, touch, and feel (oh, the feelz) the entirety of that moment, we achieve a closeness, a proximity, to nirvana that is unrivaled. 



In keeping with the original spirit of this series, volunteering is also a boon to rehabilitation. It's easy to get lost in the moment when we feel overwhelmed with the tasks ahead. When my husband was first learning to walk again, it was sometimes hard to get him out of the house and outdoors. So we started smalled; first, he volunteered to help his future father-in-law with his website. This kept his mind keen and his spirits high. Then years later, when we adopted our pygmy goats, he was ready to give himself up to something new, something other than himself. He spent hours reading manuals and sitting outside with the goats, allowing them time to get to know him and be accepted into their herd. Now, they're inseparable as soon as the gates are open. 



So, if you're looking for something mindful to do, try volunteering. Mindfulness is more than meditation, crow pose, or religious practice. It's also about living in the moment with intention, taking in acknowledging the world as it is. Through that mindfulness, we become empowered to make a difference and volunteer. It's a kind of striving, a service, that is absolutely-100%-compatible with mindfulness, because it is a radical acceptance of what is and what could be. So go into the world and volunteer. Do what makes your heart sing, and through volunteering, you may just evoke a chorus. 


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