Today’s post is about mindfulness, gratitude and living in the present. I wrote this a while ago on my personal blog and was recently reminded of these words by a dear dear friend. As its my birthday today, it's not only a good idea to reflect on the year that's past and the year ahead but also just an opportunity to enjoy the moment. If you've got the time, I highly recommend you watch this beautiful short movie. Each time I watch it, I take something different from it.
About two years ago, through my own need and soul-searching journey, I was introduced to the work of a lovely little man. He is a Vietnamese monk by the name Thich Nhat Hanh. It is really only recently though, that I have begun to fully appreciate and embrace his teachings. Thich Nhat preaches a form of mediation called mindfulness. In mindfulness, we are not only restful and happy (like in traditional meditation), but also alert and awake. This idea behind this concept is to be present.
To be alert and awake, enables us to be aware of the beauty of every little thing around us. One of my favourite quotes of his is "the most precious gift we can give others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers". I can think of oh too many times when I have been with my daughter but haven’t been present. Or how many times I’ve gone for a run, so caught up with the path in front of me and the song on my ipod that I’ve all but missed the beauty of my surroundings. It’s so easy to do.
When we do stop though and actually take a moment to be present and truly relish the present, it’s so easy to realise how much we have to be grateful for and shift our mind and our focus onto the beauty around us and all that we have, rather than do not have.
Practising gratitude means recognising the good that is already yours.
I recently heard a story about a famous violinist called Yitzhak Perlman who was in New York to give a concert symphony. As a small child, he was stricken with polio and crippled ever since. At the very beginning of his symphony performance, a strong on his violin broke. Rather than stop to replace it, he signalled to the conductor to continue and he improvised his piece with just the three strings on his violin. At the end, after the audience had finished their applause he raised his bow to signal for quiet. “You know,” he said, it is the artists task to make beautiful music with what you have left.” This is the ethos behind an ancient proverb that ask, “who is rich?” and then answers, “those who rejoice in their lot.”
If you’ve lost a job but you still have your family and health that you have something to be grateful for. If you can’t move except for a wheelchair but your mnid is as sharp as ever, you have something to be grateful for. If you’ve broken a string on your violin, and you still have three more, you have something to be grateful for.
When you open up to the concept of mindfulness and focus on the present you can enable yourself to relish and be grateful for all that is good in your life. An old, wise religious sage wrote “gratitude rejoices with her sister joy and is always ready to light a candle and have a party. Gratitude doesn’t much like the old cronies of boredom, despair and taking life for granted.”
This weekend, celebrating my birthday, I took a moment to reflect on just 5 things I was grateful for. One of them included being grateful for having the strength to exercise with fervor. One was having the ability to cook and prepare nourishing and healthy meals for my family and friends. By thinking about this, and stewing or ‘marinating’ as a wise woman once told me, on the good and wonderful things i have to be grateful for, I’m in such a great place to start the week. xxx Noa
What is it that you are grateful for?