Starting again is the single most important action that we take everyday, having a bad day, start again, lost your concentration, start again, slipping into argument with someone you love, start again. You wake up every morning, you start again and feel great, you leave the house and you start the commute again, a day's work, lunch, a cup of coffee, bumping parts, conversation (though not typically in that order), we start afresh every time we breathe a breath. Start with good intentions, a blank page and endless opportunities to do things better than we did last time, that is what life is a constant series of starting again. Starting again is such a powerful action that is always available to us and if we are going to have to start again, again and again, what is the best possible way to start anything?
A good place to begin is always with the breath, to clear and calm the mind, to reset the mind to a new focus and intention. It signals that we are now paying attention to a new task that requires our full attention, and it always requires our full intention because anything that is worth our awareness, deserves the whole of it. Not only because it makes the task easier, but because it improves our experience of what we are doing, you cannot be bored when you are paying attention, even when you are doing something as mundane as washing the dishes, it is possible for such an activity to capture the whole of our awareness when we choose to give it to what we are actually doing in the moment, and if you have to do such tasks why not make them as absorbing as possible because the difference between giving something some and all of your attention is an exponential difference in the quality of your experience, rather than being just marginally better.
However before the breath, you have to note that you are starting it, especially when you are already doing the task and your mind has wandered or become frustrated. You have to note it, you have to have the awareness that your mind is no longer on the task, only then can you start again, it is the only thing that you really have control of, and because the untrained mind always wanders, you have to chose to start taking that control, it is not our default setting. You never get to control your first thought, the one that reminds you of things to do, what you should be worried about, what your concerns are, what you would like to be doing even if it's just licking an ice cream and if you think your mind is completely under your control, ask yourself did you just think about the taste of ice cream. At times your mind is little more than a three-year-old pointing at the things they want, and the mere suggestion becomes an imperative desire, we have to chose to take our control back.
Though it certainly helps to have a sense of humour about just how unruly the mind is, it is not just like herding a destruction of cats but one where the cats keep on materialising into existence at random intervals and with increasing levels of annoyance at their temporal disturbance. The mind wanders not out of malicious intent but because in the past it paid to not be too single-minded just in case a lion had sneaked up on you, being absorbed in a book had lethal consequences for the unprotected hunter gatherer. However one of the glorious things about being human being is the ability to change your mind, not just in an open minded and open to the possibility of not knowing everything kind of way, but we are able to go further and changed the kind of thoughts we have, or at least our reactions to our first thoughts.
We are imperfect, not just from a lack of trying but in a fundamental way, our underlying reality is that of impermanence, suffering and non-self, and perfection is just not consistent with that. And if the universe is fundamentally imperfect, you certainly get pass on being so, it certainly smooths me to think that it was broken when I got here and it is not up to me to fix it, it stopped me having to live up to any imaginary standard of goodness, and from giving myself a continuous pass/fail test of whether I was being a good person. Labelling of any sort is dangerous and unhelpful, the good person model is a standard that under self-assessment we all probably (definitely) fail, I know plenty of people who are trying to be good and none that say they are actually good, and that is fine, far better to lower the standard to trying to be a better person, everyone I know is trying to be a better person and that is good enough for me. That is what a growing being of consciousness should be doing, that is what the universe seems to be set up for us to do, like an obstacle course to trip up up, it is imperfect, we are imperfect and we are just trying to be a little bit better and for our actions to be a little better.
And we do so by starting again, we do it unconsciously by sleeping every night and waking up afresh, when we choose to concentrate on a task, when we look someone in the eye before we start talking. We have the stamina and capability to start again ten thousand times a day, we just have to note it to give it extra power, by bringing our awareness to starting again, by breathing into the moment we centre ourselves not just metaphorically but literally, we breathe into our bellies and look out from our hearts, we can bring our concentration, attention and awareness into line to focus on a single task. This is something that is completely in our control, we get to choose where our awareness is that and if we do not use it our minds will do so for it's own purposes, There is always awareness we get to decide if we want control over where it is focused, and it is a decision you have to repeatedly make, you have to start again as awareness flow like water, if you try to grab it with your fist, you will hold onto none of it, but by cupping your hands together you can gather it and drink from it.
That is the power of starting again, you get to draw the whole of your energy back to the task you are doing, you do not waste time with regret of thinking about the future. The act of starting again bring you back to where you need to be, the moment that you can actually affect and have an influence on, you get to have presence, and actual impact on events that are occurring, which are the only ones that you get to effect, the past has happened and the future will take care of itself, if you take the best action you can in this moment. The only thing that matters is to start again and give this moment the whole of your awareness, in rugby they say you can not have any regrets if you leave it all on the field and the same is true in life.