“Enlightenment is not separate from washing dishes or growing lettuce. To learn how to live each moment of our daily life in deep mindfulness and concentration is the practice. The conception and unfolding of a piece of art takes place exactly in these moments of our daily life. The time when you begin to write down the music or the poems is only the time of delivering the baby. The baby has to be in you already in order for you to deliver it. But if the baby is not in you, even if you sit for hours and hours at your desk, there’s nothing to deliver, and you cannot produce anything. Your insight, your compassion, and your ability to write in a way that will move the other person’s heart are flowers that bloom on your tree of practice. We should make good use of every moment of our daily life in order to allow this insight and compassion to bloom.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
When I read this quote, I feel that anything is possible if we are mindful of the present everyday moments in our lives. It is those moments that enrich our lives and make our creative expression deep in meaning and spirit.
A week ago last Sunday, I let go of my regular day-to-day life and journeyed down to the shore again. Once I exited the Garden State Parkway, I opened my car windows wide to welcome the ocean breeze that greeted me as I got closer to the sea. As I turned down the road that would lead me to the beach, I felt all of the tension melt away as I inhaled the cool salty air. Once again, I was taken back to my origins and my inner self as I experienced a week of just “Being”.
Even though I had the perfect opportunity to sleep in, I rose every morning around 6am and had my tea out on the balcony. I listened to the songbirds greet the day and watched the terns and gulls as they wheeled across the sky. Constant was the gentle roar of the surf, a sound that spoke to the deepest parts of me as I watched the waves rise and fall.
I walked the beach every morning for about an hour before the beachgoers started to stake their claim on the sand. I passed fishermen sitting patiently next to their rows of poles and wide-eyed small children splash and dart at the water’s edge. I felt such a sense of calm envelop me as I placed one foot in front of the other and moved along the beach. As Eckhardt Tolle suggests in his books “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now”, I emptied my mind as best I could and immersed myself completely in that moment. It was challenging at first because my mind wanted to think about all of the issues in my life and what was going on. I pushed past those thoughts and kept bringing myself back to the feel of my feet against the sand and the rhythm of my breathing. I came to understand what Thich Nhat Hanh refers to when he suggests “walking meditation” as a good way to connect with yourself. Not only was I able to connect with myself but I also felt connected to everything else. This gave me such a great comfort.
I’m fascinated by waves and always have been since I was very young. There is something magical about the way they are created , how they rise and peak and then crash onto the shore. Studying the movement of waves has taught me of life cycles – gestation and birth: the rising up and creation of the wave, the period of a life: the wave at its full height and crest, and death: the falling down to earth and dissolution. The wave is absorbed back into the water to create another wave and this cycle keeps repeating itself. Just like our lives.