Today I woke up in a relaxed post-holiday mode. I found time to meditate, made a cup of nice tea and started slowly sipping it. But then the never-ending To Do list in my mind turned on like a loud alarm- “I have to finalize and send out those slides”,”After that I have to make that call”, “And afterwards need to figure out the insurance”… It suddenly stopped feeling relaxing at all.
A passage of one of my favorite books came to a rescue. It is a powerful little book called the “The Miracle of Mindfulness” written by the Buddhist monk Thich Nath Than that gives you an easy to digest introduction to the practice of Mindfulness:
“In the United States, I have a close friend named Jim Forest. Last winter, Jim came to visit. I usually wash the dishes after we’ve finished the evening meal, before sitting down and drinking tea with everyone else. One night, Jim asked if he might do the dishes. I said, “Go ahead, but if you wash the dishes you must know the way to wash them.” Jim replied, “Come on, you think I don’t know how to wash the dishes?” I answered, “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.” Jim was delighted and said, “I choose the second way-to wash the dishes to wash the dishes.” From then on, Jim knew how to wash the dishes. 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.”
And this is it. Just wash the dishes to wash the dishes. As simple as it sounds. Simple, yet powerful. Give it a try. Afterwards just drink your tea to drink your tea. Do one work task at a time. And then- spend time with your loved ones and be with them in your mind. One step at a time. With your full attention.Without being lost between past and future. For me this is what living feels like.