“If we choose to drink a cup of tea in mindfulness, the pleasure of drinking tea will more than double because we are truly there and the tea is also truly there.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
What if the key to enjoying life is simply doing one thing at a time, fully? What if the next time you are brushing your teeth, you simply brush your teeth, nothing else.
You consciously choose your toothbrush, and go through your tooth-brushing routine step by step, thinking about the paste or powder and brush you are using… Where did they come from? How did they get to your bathroom? What flavour are they? How does it taste? You mindfully turn off the running water before you scrub and feel Good about the water you are saving… You slow it down and think about cleaning each tooth, how that feels, savouring the moment without doing the other zillion things you may do or be thinking about while brushing your teeth. Like me, I am usually also planning my to-do list for the day.
If it sounds like I am trying to tell you what to do, from the point of view of some Mindful Master, I am NOT. I am actually talking to myself, reminding myself of this because although I know that FULLY DOING ONE THING AT A TIME is the key to my own enjoyment, it isn’t easy for me and I need reminders.
I am sharing my experiences with you here so that maybe you can relate.
We have been sung the praises of multi-tasking for so long… especially in the ultra-productive society and culture I come from in Canada where sleeping in and taking naps is generally considered lazy, where we are identified by our profession.
– Hello, nice to meet you! What do you do?
Is commonly the first thing we ask when we meet someone in Canada. And your answer is not supposed to be:
– “I play guitar! I make soap! I enjoy my Sunday mornings watering my Aloe Vera plants!”
No, you are meant to answer what job you do. We were taught that being able to do 7 things at once is a highly valuable skill. So, how do we unlearn that? How do we not feel guilty when taking a nap? Well, I have been living in a radically different culture now for about 20 years… Andalucia, Southern Spain, where slow living is very present and I have come to adore napping. It feels so luxurious.
Sometimes I am on the Yoga mat and find myself not even listening to my teacher. My mind is off on a path of its own, again, usually planning my daily to-do list. When I realize that my mind has gone to some other place than my yoga mat, I smile or chuckle, let the thought go and get back to the mat. Sometimes I even vizualize myself placing that thought on a cloud and watching it floating off into the sky, as I peacefully get back to the thing I am doing. This was a tecnique I learned during a Mindfullness retreat I did a few years ago.
Reminders… I love to collect stones while walking on the beach. Sometimes, later, I write a date and place on the Stone, and even a quote or a feeling. I keep them in a bowl in my living room. I wrote this one as a reminder to get back to the ONE TASK at hand and do it fully.
The same thing often happens to me when I prepare and drink tea. I love tea, all kinds of tea – rooibos, white tea, black tea, Earl Gray, herbal tea. I even set up a Tea-Zone in my studio with many varieties of loose-leaf tea and a special hand-crafted pottery tea-pot. Hot tea in the cold months, cold tea in the summer. So, often, I put the tea on to steep, and then go about the zillion and one things I do in the studio. Before I know it, my tea has been steeping for half an hour! Now bitter & too strong.
Or I may be sipping a nice hot tea and get distracted with something else, and by the time I get back to my tea, it is cold… Lately, I try to remind myself to just enjoy the tea fully… every part of it… choosing which tea, preparing it in the exact way and time recommended… and of course drinking it.
Looking deeply into your tea, you see that you are drinking fragrant plants that are the gift of Mother Earth. You see the labor of the tea pickers; you see the luscious tea fields and plantations in India, Sri Lanka, China, and Vietnam. You know that you are drinking a cloud; you are drinking the rain. The tea contains the whole universe.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I had a plan for my day this morning, but it shifted and I chose to Flow rather than insist.
After watering my plants, I was going to take the car to the gas station, fill it up and get a car-wash. On my way, I was going to take my recyling stuff to the recycling bins, planning out the way to be most productive on the route… Multi-Tasking! Once the car was full of gas, I was heading into the studio to make our Green Clay Mask as we are completely out of stock and get through some admin work for the organic certification of more products.
So there I was, watering my Aloe Vera plants, and I got into a Mindful moment which I like to call THE ZONE of just being with the plants… present with every aspect of what I was doing… the hose, the water… I thought about the rain and how much more the plants love the rain than the tap water I give them… about why this plant thrives while this one looks sickly.
Could it be the soil? Placement on my patio in relation to the sun? The pot?
I have discovered that my Aloes love a wide rather than deep pot. Then I completely Zenned out as I realized that where I watered them, changed the experience. If the water landed in the soil, some soil sprayed and made a mess, but that if I angled the hose to water directly onto the plant, the incredible layering of the Aloe leaves managed the water flow in a series of magical mini cascades. Wow! My mind was just there and I felt so ALIVE. My to-do list was far away and I actually felt so inspired that I decided to set aside the plan entirely, just go with the inspirational Flow and WRITE.
I mindfully chose and prepared my tea, cleared everything off my desk and wiped it clean. I opened the window enough for a breeze but no direct sunlight in my eyes. I placed my computer, mouse and tea on the desk, and sat down smiling.
So here I am fully, just writing & drinking tea.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Would love to hear from you! Did you connect with anything in the post?
Share below in comments!!