Dear Still Water Friends,
Is this a wonderful moment? I find the answer to this question is easy when I am in a beautiful place or feeling rested, relaxed and loved. The answer is not so easy when I am stressed out at work, stuck in traffic or generally having a bad day.
Extending my practice beyond the cushion and into daily life, mindfulness helps me come back to the present moment, giving me calm and clarity. The first time I “tested” this practice I was driving my car. I slowed down at a yellow light and stopped, using the time before the green light to come back to my breath and into the present moment. The experience changed my entire outlook on commuting to work, it became an opportunity to find peace and joy at the beginning of my day, rather than having my commute be a race to “get there.”
In his book, Present Moment Wonderful Moment, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that we use gathas, meditation poems, to bring awareness to the things we do every day – such as waking up, using the telephone, or washing the dishes:
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.
Using the Telephone
Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems,
as lovely as flowers.
Washing the Dishes
Washing the dishes
is like bathing a baby Buddha.
The profane is the sacred.
Everyday mind is Buddha’s mind.
Starting with one moment of awareness, I try to string together moments throughout my day. This is a deep practice for me and one which still requires much care and attention. I suppose once I am present 24 hours a day I will be a Buddha, but I have a long time to enjoy practicing before then!
Right now I’m in the waiting area of a car repair shop. It’s hectic with activity, there is noise from a TV and the radio, and many distractions. I have to make a conscious effort to come back to the moment so I can recognize the gift of this time to write to you.
Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that the Buddha said, “You have to make the present moment into the most wonderful moment of your life.” This is possible. If we are able to come home to the present moment, to the here and the now, and become fully alive and present, we can touch all of the wonders of life that are within ourselves and around us.
The practice of daily life mindfulness was the first step I embraced on my path. It was the most accessible and the most helpful for me at the time. Experiencing the benefits of coming back to the present moment inspired me to strengthen the other aspects of my practice.
Have you put daily life mindfulness into practice? Is it helpful or not? We’ll have time to share our experiences this Thursday evening after sitting and walking meditation. An excerpt on Daily Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh is below.
Smiles on a summer day,
You are also invited to join us this week for a brief orientation to mindfulness practice and the Still Water community. The orientation will begin at 6:30 pm and participants are encouraged to stay for the evening program. If you would like to attend the orientation, it is helpful if you let us know by emailing us at info@StillWaterMPC.org.
Committing to Practice: An “At Home” Two Weeks of Intensive Practice begins this Saturday afternoon, July 13, at Blueberry Gardens, in Ashton, MD
On Daily Mindfulness
from Together We Are One: Honoring Our Diversity by Thich Nhat Hanh
All of us have the seed of mindfulness and concentration in us. All of us are capable of drinking our tea mindfully. When I drink my tea, I want to really drink my tea. Before drinking, we may like to breathe in and out to bring our mind home to our body. We want to be there, fully. When we are fully there, the tea will be fully there for us. If we are not there, the tea is like a ghost, it is not real.
When we practice eating our lunch or our breakfast mindfully, we establish ourselves in the here and the now and we pay attention only to the food that we eat. When we pick up a piece of bread, we don’t think of the past or the future, we just touch the piece of bread deeply, and we’re able to see that the piece of bread contains the whole cosmos. In the piece of bread, I can see the sunshine, the cloud, the earth, and the farmer. If there is no sunshine, the wheat cannot grow. If there is no cloud, there will be no rain for the wheat to grow. If there is no earth, no soil, how could the wheat grow? So if we look deeply into the piece of bread, we see everything in it. The piece of bread we hold in our hand is the body of the cosmos. With a little bit of mindfulness we can see that the piece of bread is an ambassador of the cosmos coming to us.
Once we can see the piece of bread in its true nature, we can put it in our mouth. We don’t put anything else in our mouth, like our projects, our fear, our anger—it’s not good for our health. We just put the bread in. When we chew the bread, we just chew the bread, mindfully, with joy. We don’t chew our sorrow, our anger. There is no thinking, just the practice of mindful chewing. We take our time to enjoy our breakfast. From time to time we pause and smile.
We become fully present and fully alive. It doesn’t take long; it may take just one step or one in-breath. In our daily life, we’re in a state of distraction, with mind and body going in two different directions. Our mind may be preoccupied by our projects, our fear, our anger; it may be caught in the past or in the future. But as soon as we go home to our breath, our body and our mind come together very quickly. And in this state of being, we pick up our tea, and the tea becomes a reality. And when we drink our tea, there’s no thinking, there’s just drinking, deep drinking. We are real, the tea is real, and life is real. Many people live in a dream because they are not in touch with what is going on in the present moment. But we can be aware that what is going on is that we are enjoying our tea; there is no thinking at all, there is only drinking tea. In that moment, life is real and we have returned to our true home.
|Sun, June 26||Mon, June 27||
Tue, June 28
Gaithersburg, MDEvening Practice at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Wed, June 29
Silver Spring, MDSpanish-Speaking Practice at Silver Spring Library 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Thu, June 30
||Fri, July 1||Sat, July 2|