The Zen of Making My Bed

I make my bed every morning and, as silly as it sounds, I think it is a profound and important spiritual act.
 
I started about three years ago. One morning, after a long meditation, I saw something clearly. When my ex-wife got up last she would make the bed. However, when I got up last I never did. For years, I blindly got out of bed and ran around only being concerned about my day, mindless of the fact that my partner enjoyed returning to a made bed at night.
 
I saw clearly how my thoughtlessness, my being distracted by self, impacted others.
 
The word karma is commonly misunderstood in the West. Stephen Batchelor, one of my favorite Buddhist teachers, suggested that there are two types of karma. Karma with a “capital K” and karma with a “small k.” [1]
 
The “capital K” variety is the traditional understanding that people who believe in reincarnation think determines an individual’s lot in the next life. [2] Today, I’m concerned with karma with a “small k.” This kind of karma literally means, “action, work or deeds.” [3] The Buddha taught time and time again that our karma shaped our ability, and the ability of others, to be free from suffering.
 
Before I started meditating daily I stumbled through life, driven by impulse, greed, confusion and wanting. Today, I walk a little more gently, more often motivated by kindness and much more conscious of my impact on the world.
 
I see it when I’m on the highway and someone throws trash out his or her window. What could motivate that? Are they a bad person trying to hurt the environment? I don't think so. I suspect this is the action of someone who is consumed in self, and not conscious of the world around them.
 
There are Tibetan monks who are so concerned about not harming any living beings they don’t walk on grass after a rainstorm for fear of crushing a worm. I want to strive for this kind of mindfulness.
 
Meditating first thing in the morning every day helps me see the world clearly. With a quiet mind, I am less cut off from the world by the constant chattering of an inner narrator who is primarily concerned about me and my wants.
 
Today, I want to be conscious of my karma. I want the actions I take to create a better world. I aspire to make the Three Pure Precepts, “create no evil, practice good and actualize good for others” the starting point of all my actions. To shape my life this way I need to operate a little slower and a little more mindfully.
 
So today I woke up, meditated and made my bed. Hopefully it gets the ball rolling on driving a little slower, being a little kinder to my coworkers and understanding how my actions will impact others.
 
May your practice go well!
 
Warmly,
Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed.
ZenHappinessProject.com
 
PS – February’s free “90 Minute Beginner’s Crash Course in Zen Meditation” is TONIGHT at 8pm EST. Sign up here: http://goo.gl/forms/DJo3Hv0ad0 

Recommended Reading: Meditation Booms as People Seek a Way to Slow Down http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-c1-meditation-20150216-story.html#page=1

Quote of the Week: “When you see a good person, think of becoming like her/him. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points.” ― Confucius

[1] See “Buddhism Without Beliefs” by Stephen Batchelor for more on this. Generally a highly recommended book.
 
[2] James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing, New York
 
[3] Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 15, New York, pp 679-680