I do find my asana (movement practice) helps a lot and it is akin to a moving meditation for me and after that it is easier to sit and find some space just to watch my breath, to feel and let thoughts come in and go. But finding moments to be present is even more essential off the mat, and after reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s Miracle of Mindfulness, I have begun to see that cultivating a meditation practice can be part of our daily routine. The key is practice.
But how to find the time in this festive period?
A practice I like for daily life.
Have you ever tried washing the dishes? It may feel like you wash them THE WHOLE TIME or perhaps you are a lucky soul with a dish washer. Anyway, from time to time will ALL have to wash dishes. (maybe more so, this time of year!)
But are you just washing the dishes? Most likely that your mind is somewhere else. Next time you wash the dishes I invite you to think of Thich Nhat Hanh’s words and perhaps try this exercise for yourself….
“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not "washing the dishes to wash the dishes."
What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either.
While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.” For me, this beautifully expresses some of the clarity a meditation practice can bring. Its not suppressing any thing but allowing thoughts and feelings to be recognised and felt yet at the same time letting them pass on.
It’s something that I have been trying to bring to practice on the mat (and off it), an awareness and acceptance of everything passing through, and of the waves of life, the ebb and flow, the highs and the lows. Somehow it has started to make me feel a little better, a little calmer and though this practice comes healing. But how can I bring my meditation practice more deeply into daily life?
‘Next time you wash the dishes relaxingly, as though each bowl is an object of contemplation. Consider each bowl as sacred. Follow your breath to prevent your mind from straying. Do not try to hurry to get the job over with. Consider washing the dishes the most important thing in life.’ Part of this is giving yourself permission to slow down and just be. Easier said than done in this fast paced world. Using our breath as a tool to do so can be so useful.
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”
Take a big breath in (the biggest one you’ve taken all day) and a big breath out, exhale every piece of air. How did that make you feel?
Any moment can be used to reconnect with your breath.
Have a happy festive time!