I have mentioned previously one of my favourite techniques, as practiced by Tibetan monks, to pause for a moment of mindfulness each and every time you walk through a doorway. It really is a simple and beautiful practice, each time you are about the walk through a door, pause, take a moment, breathe and breathe out. Bring yourself fully into the moment. Then cross the threshold and walk on.
In many retreats and buddhist centers there will be mindfulness bells to remind everyone to slow down and be aware of the present moment (see previous entry on Peace Pulse). And when you hear the gong you just stop what you are doing and practice this moment of mindfulness so that you can more fully experience the experience.
I have listed below a couple of my favourite rituals taken from Lama Surya Das's book 'Awakening to the Sacred Within'. Try these yourself tomorrow.. or a day soon.
1. Mindful Waking Up : The dawning of each new days is a fabulous opportunity for awakening in a sacred way. We can thereby intentionally start our new day in a more mindful fashion. So we wake up, get settled in the moment, and take three slow mindful breaths. Inhale...Exhale...One. Inhale...Exhale...Two. Inhale...Exhale...Three. THEN Breathe out! Say Aaaaah!
We let go of the stale air from the night, let go of the mist from the night's dreams... and greet the morning with a giant outbreath (an ancient Tibetan practice) before getting up.
2. Mindful Arriving : Whenever you arrive at a destination (shop, school, work) let yourself fully arrive. Stop. Pause. Take three breaths. Pay Attention. Explore the moment before moving forward. Be awake and aware. Notice where you are, notice what is around you. Understand that you hav arrived and move forward.
3. Mindful Waiting : An excellent exercise! and so many opportunities each and every day to practice. When waiting in line.. think movies, train station, lunch spot, photocopier... don't just distract yourself to avoid feeling bored or annoyed. Instead use this brilliant piece of time to create a 'rich and sacred moment of mindfulness'. Breathe three or seven times, and refresh yourself through the magic power of awareness. Just be for a moment.. and I promise the line will move faster!
4. Mindful Eating : Mindfulness of eating is an ancient spiritual practice. When I lived in Sydney I did some massage training and as part of our awareness in understanding the work our bodies/digestive system had to do to break down just a mouthful of brown rice ~ we had to take big mouthful of uncooked brown rice and chew and chew until it liquified (at which point we could swallow). What an effort this took! But there was a gift inherent in the practice as well... never had we experienced such sensory input from a mouthful of food.. the textures, the changing nature of the flavour, the richness of this little mouthful.
The practice helped us understand how little attention we give to our eating. So try to spend at least one mouthful, one meal, or one occassion each day this week being fully mindful of eating. Take a mouthful and put down your food and cutlery. Eat. Smile. Take an exceptional amount of time getting to know the food in your mouth. Be grateful for the people, the natural forces, the miracle of food and eating. By opening up to it, we truly experience the moment.
5. Mindful Homecoming : My dad told me once that he would sit in the car a block or two from our home each night, often for only a few minutes; but in order to leave behind the 'work' day, allowing him to truly 'arrive home'. He was practicing Mindful Homecoming. When you arrive home next...stand in front of your door and take a moment to fully appreciate the moment of your arrival. Be aware of the closing of the circle of your day. Breath in and out three times. Notice the fresh air around you, the garden, the warm home lights. Just be there for a moment and then open the door and step inside.
Our home is our temple; honour your arrival at your temple and enter your sacred domain (leaving the outside world outside). Come home to yourself.. come home to you family and rest.
Please make a note and try each of these practices this week... I would welcome your thoughts.