Precious Moment

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I found this blog post from a couple of years ago. I still often refer to “bathing a Baby Buddha” when I am talking about mindfulness. As we move into Autumn,  it seems apt to repost…

I have found myself being surprised by the date. October already? It’s a common theme and topic of conversation, how quickly the months seem to fly by. We are intrinsically linked to the flow of the seasons and still gauge the passing of time by seasonal milestones. The passing of time can also feel more quickly paced at certain times than at others. Time can reflect achievements, goals and challenges, deadlines missed and tasks yet undone and we often dwell on the past or constantly plan or worry about the future..

The practice of Yoga allows us to be more present in the moment – something which is nowadays often called Mindfulness. More important than the ticking by of seconds, hours and weeks, is what is occurring RIGHT NOW. Indeed, the only thing we can be absolutely certain of is what is happening right now. More than that, it’s about developing awareness, focusing in and being mindful of what is occurring, with our breath, in our bodies, in our minds. Off the mat, it is about being fully present in our lives. It may not be possible all of the time, but the awareness that comes from practising yoga can give more meaning and depth to our experience of each moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh  comments beautifully about this in the following verse about Washing the Dishes:

Washing the dishes

is like bathing a baby Buddha.

The profane is the sacred.

Everyday mind is Buddha’s mind.

“To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur to us only when we are not doing them. Once we are standing in front of the sink with our sleeves rolled up and our hands in warm water, it is really not bad at all… Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane. It may take a bit longer to do the dishes, but we can live fully, happily, in every moment…If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert and a cup of tea, I will be equally incapable of doing these things joyfully. With the cup in my hands, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the fragrance and the flavourof the tea, together with the pleasure of drinking it, will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment. The time of dishwashing is as important as the time of meditation. That is why the everyday mind is called the Buddha’s mind.” THICH NHAT HANH

Eat Before you Tweet!

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Wednesday 26th was our “Switching Off!” event for Social Media Week GlasgowEm Saanen and I spent three fascinating hours in the company of some even more interesting people, exploring what it means to us be mindful in the Social Media universe.

It became quite clear early on that  most of the participants were already much more mindful in their Social Media use than we had expected. On reflection, I suppose this isn’t really surprising, since those that were attracted to the workshop’s title and content were very likely to have been at least half way towards us in attitude.  So, a little adjustment took place along the way and we opened ourselves to learning a lot from the participants.

We had planned a number of interactive exercises and this opened the event up to some great discussion and feedback. Our themes were:

  • Constantly Connected
  • What is mindfulness?
  • Being Present
  • Don’t just do something, sit there
  • Looking after your own wellbeing

You may look at the workshop notes

 Our mantra became

 We slow down, steady ourselves, and try to do just one thing at a time, thoroughly and completely. .. (Akong Tulku Rinpoche)

 What emerged is that there can be real resistance to the idea of doing one thing at a time. It is really how we all function nowadays – on numerous platforms all the time – that it it is almost seen as naive and silly to suggest focusing just on one thing, and people can become, understandably, very defensive of the current normality of existing in the Social Network.

Even now, as a type (unusually at a desk) I am conscious of the “ping” of e-mail coming into my four inboxes. I have two other browser tabs open ( only two?) My smartphone is on the desk alerting me to Facebook posts and Twitter mentions. I am also drinking my morning latte and adding notes to the day’s “to do” list as I remember them.  

 This is normal for most of us.

 But if I stop and  tune into my body and my breathing, I can notice that knot of anxiety in my belly, the tension in my neck and shoulders, the sore bit where I have been unconsciously biting the inside of my lip whilst concentrating, the raggedness of my breathing, the hurried sensation…

 So I slow down, steady myself, and try to do just one thing at a time, thoroughly and completely. This blog. Breathe. Focus. Take my time.

 We finished with an exercise on Wednesday which we called “Be your own Guru” where the participants came up with their own lists of mindful guidelines for interacting on Social Media.

 The very first comment was “Eat Before You Tweet!”

 Naturally, this got a laugh, but it is actually really good mindful advice. It may not be literally just about eating, but about attending to the stuff of real life before attending to your virtual world. When I first got a smartphone, I became aware that I was reading my e-mail even before I had rubbed the sleep out of my eyes in the morning.

 This is becoming normal. We have often “liked” our friends’ Facebook posts before we have said good morning to our spouses, had breakfast, patted the dog, had a shower…all of the things that we used to do before engaging with the outside world.

 Perhaps “Eat before you tweet” will become our new mantra?

 “Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” Thich Nhat Hanh