“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
I have ongoing involvement with many of my students and clients and am privileged to continue to help guide them in their personal and spiritual development. One of the most frequent issues that crops up during this process, is their frustration over not having enough time and often privacy, to delve deeper into their spirituality and tend to their self care and development. Many of my clients are business owners; wives and mothers juggling family responsibilities, housework, shopping etc with other areas of their lives. Finding the time to be mindful and focus on themselves and their spiritual practice is challenging. I empathise as I have been in this same position for some time and as such have given it much thought. *When time is limited and the environment we find ourselves in not really ideal, how do we pursue a personal practice? *
Jon Kabat-Zinn and Eckhart Tolle may have brought an awareness of Mindfulness to the West, but one of the greatest teachers on Mindfulness, is Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. His books are simply written in a gentle way that inspires compassion and a willingness to live a more mindful life. He frequently uses the example of washing dishes or drinking a cup of tea to demonstrate how when one is involved in such an activity, we need to be completely absorbed in it, not thinking about what we will be doing once we are finished or allowing our minds to day dream or wonder about like a wild horse. We must rein it in and focus on the task at hand, focus on the breath, focus on the moment - as that is all there is.
I enjoy his writing because his message is applicable. We are not Buddhist Monks meditating all day long in a monastery up in the mountains. Few of us have the luxury of time and a dedicated meditation space to pursue our spiritual practice and indulge our self development. This tends to build frustration and often resentment but there is a solution if we just let go of the notion that there is only one way to be spiritual in this world.
To have a consistent spiritual practice in today’s busy world, one has to turn the mundane into the magical and seek out moments of sacredness in the simple tasks that make up our day.
Whether you are cooking a meal for your family, doing the washing or reading a story to your child, all of these tasks can become an opportunity to be more mindful. You can be mindful when you walk to work, climb the stairs, or sit and eat a meal. You have further opportunities to be mindful when someone talks to you - allowing yourself to really listen attentively to the words being said, the body language, the subtle undertones.
One of my dearest friends practices mindfulness when folding socks. As a mother of boys, she frequently has a large pile of socks to clean and sort out - a mundane task that is time consuming and requires patience, yet she has turned this into a form of meditation, so instead of resentment and a desire to get moving so that she can do the things she really wants to be doing, the task itself becomes the beautiful mindful activity and she is fully absorbed in the doing of it. She is fully present in the now.
When we turn the mundane into the magical and are mindful throughout our day, we become content with our place in this world. The seeking hearts; restless searching and endless pressure subsides and makes way for a state of peace and calm. It is in that space, that a beautiful life resides.
Photo by Jisu Han on Unsplash