Hello my fellow human Beings:
One cloudy, cool, spring evening, dressed in a business suit, I walked along a city street in downtown Toronto from a business meeting to a group meditation sitting. Suddenly, in what seemed like out of nowhere, came a big SPLAT on my glasses.
I quickly pulled off my glasses to see that I was hit by bird poop. YUCK!
Now in the moment, a range of feelings, thoughts and body sensations arose.
I felt embarrassed. “Did anybody see that?”, I thought as my face flushed.
I walked on getting a tissue out of my purse to clean my glasses.
I felt angry. “How dare that bird poop on me!”, I thought as my breath became more rapid.
I stopped to examine my reflection in a car window to see if I had been hit anywhere else.
I felt self-pity. “Oh whoa is me, another sucky event to my day.”, I thought as I felt my shoulders tense and grow heavy.
Before rounding the corner to get to the meditation centre, I stopped…and paused…and BREATHED … and thought to myself: “I’m going to a meditation sitting. What has meditation taught me to deal with a situation like this?”
As I breathed and focused on my breath, I began to observe the feelings, thoughts and body sensations that were arising in me.
In that moment, I had a choice to make. I could enter the meditation centre and complain to those I met about this unpleasant event that just happened to me, seeking their sympathy to soothe my ego. …OR… I could keep the chatter about this unpleasant event to myself, interact with each other in the present moment, and then just sit silently with the feelings, thoughts and body sensations that arose in me from the event.
As I headed to the washroom to do a final cleaning, I decided to choose the latter.
So for the next 90 minutes of sitting and walking meditations, I observed the feelings, thoughts and body sensations that appeared in me in a detached, non-judgemental manner. As I focused on my breath, I was mindful of all the feelings, thoughts and body sensations that surfaced, their interconnections, each arising and each passing away, and the changes and wisdom that were unfolding for me.
By the end of my meditation sitting, I was smiling, no, laughing, and thanking that bird for the lessons it taught me that day.
As Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hahn tells us:
“Enlightenment is not separate from washing the dishes or growing lettuce [or even getting pooped on!] …Everything we are looking for is right here in the present moment.”
As I left the meditation centre to walk home, I mindfully smiled, remembering two things:
- Shit happens.
- Thich Nhat Hahn ‘s words, “While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.”
So the next time you encounter an unpleasant situation, I hope you will join me, and together we will endeavour to:
- take the time to PAUSE,
- be still,
- be mindful of our thoughts, feelings and body sensations in a non-judgemental way,
- accept that life has its ups and downs,
- find the learnings in the moment,
- and smile as we truly live in the abundant paradise of this moment.