Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cultivating Mindfulness

In spite of my best intentions and efforts to live in a way that is grateful, centered, and mindful, I tend to get distracted. I assume we all do to varying degrees, and this is OK. But I’ve recently found a practice that helps me some in this regard: memorizing and/or composing short mindfulness prayers for various daily activities. Thich Nhat Hanh has translated a bunch of short prayers (called gathas) in Present Moment Wonderful Moment. He encourages us to memorize these short prayers, to change them and make them our own, to write new prayers that are appropriate for our situation. The wonderful thing about them is that they are tied to daily activities--drinking tea, using the phone, washing dishes. As we incorporate these prayers into daily life, the activities themselves become reminders of our need to be awake. When we get distracted, turning on the faucet or making a phone call or myriad other activities can remind us to live in the present, to be aware of God's presence with us. Here is one of my favorite gathas from Nhat Hanh’s book; it is for drinking tea:

This cup of tea in my two hands,
mindfulness held perfectly.
My mind and body dwell,
in the very here and now.

5 comments:

living stones said...

Very insightful, John. Thank you for this reminder to be present to and aware of God's presence. I love that "turning on the faucet or making a phone call or myriad other activities can remind us to live in the present, to be aware of God's presence with us." I want to live this way, and I want to be in spiritual relationship with others who seeking to live this way, too. I'm grateful for you and for your insight and reflection.
--Rickey

Anna Cotton said...

John, I really like the idea of memorizing or writing new prayers to help me be mindful. This poetic one from Nhat Hanh is beautiful. I’m off to have a cup of tea, which I will hold in my two hands in a new way. Thank you for sharing and blessings on you and Erica, Anna

Paul Corrigan said...

This sounds something like an "applied Jesus prayer." Thanks for sharing. And it is very good to hear from you in this space again!

Daniel said...

John, I always appreciate your honest voice in the matters of the spiritual journey, and particularly in this entry, your creative approach to mindfulness. This is a timely reminder for me to remain present in all activities, especially the mundane. Thanks for sharing!

Mark Wills said...

John, I'm a little late to the party, but I appreciate your thoughts. I like the mashup mentality with which Thich Nhat Hanh prefaces this practice. I'll have to attempt writing one for house chores!

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