Friday, November 16, 2007
The air smells like rain this morning. I open the door to let Yuki out and see the cloud dappled sky. Jesse rubs her face along the vertical line of the door and I boil water for tea. Jesse and Yuki are eating their morning meals as I begin preparing my breakfast. I paddle rice into a bowl, place an umeboshi on top, make a paste of miso in boiled water, add more hot water, then drop in a few small pieces of wakame and sliced green onions, a drop of sesame oil, and stir. I place steamed kale leaves into a shallow bowl, sprinkle a few sesame seeds over them, then grate carrots and beets into another little bowl, adding sunflower sprouts, some garlic, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I grate daikon into a watery mound over silken tofu and drizzle both with shoyu. The boiled water I pour over tea leaves pushes a steamy spiral out the spout and gently disperses before my eyes. I pour my first cup of tea, cupping my hands around the warm glass of golden liquid.
I don't know what this day will bring, but I am going to walk into it with an open heart, an open mind. It's always my choice--in any moment, in any circumstance--to turn the corners of my mouth up slightly into a pleasant feeling smile that has the effect of loosening up my entire body/mind. Smiling in this way, I breathe mindfully in and out and enjoy being fully in the moment and fully present with whatever I am doing. Alternatively, I can turn my mouth corners down, thinking thoughts that unsettle and that tighten or constrict the body/mind and breath. This way takes me out of the present moment and mires me in thoughts of past or future and wanting to be somewhere else. (Planning for the future and thoughts of the past can be considered mindfully from the present moment).
Today, in this moment, I choose to smile and feel good. Breathing mindfully in and out while relaxing the body is a practice that can be done anywhere (even while working and performing daily actions), and can be practiced in any circumstance, even in the midst of pain, suffering, and chaos. In my experience, when I am mindfully breathing in and out and enjoying pleasant thoughts, I am choosing what to feel and how to feel. And in times of chaos or difficulty, mindfulness practice (breathing, calming, acknowledging and embracing the painful feelings, smiling, feeling good, and so on) can transform my so-called negative thoughts, perceptions, and reactions, which allows me to take the next step in peace.
After a while, when I acknowledge and embrace my pains, sufferings, and negative thoughts, they cease, much as a baby who is crying stops crying when held lovingly by a parent. Seen in this light, Thich Nhat Hanh's saying, "there is no way to peace, peace is the way" makes so much sense. Likewise, Gandhi's saying, "We must become the change we want to see." I have fun substituting "peace" for whatever it is that I am practicing or want to do, be, or become. For example, "there is no way to taiko, taiko is the way."