Small Things: A Mindfulness Practice

Last Thursday afternoon, I bit into a bright pink apple, feeling the familiar crunch as my teeth sliced through its delicate skin. The texture was waxen at first with a cool grit the color of eggshell hiding underneath, and I paused as each flavor spread wide across my tongue. First tart, then floral, then an accelerated array of sweet, sour, base, and plant before I swallowed and began again. I paused, affixing my gaze on the small, oval sticker that bared a barcode and a cheap cartoon logo, and I wondered, “Where did you come from?”

I closed my eyelids and pictured all the hands that must have touched this apple before it arrived in my office and landed on my desk – the machine worker who tended the soil, the migrant fruit picker with broken calluses who shoved it into a basket, the truck driver who pulled a hazy all-nighter on amphetamines, the teenage son who stocked the shelves at Trader Joe’s, and the red headed assistant who plucked it from the pile and was eating it at present. It seemed, in some way, a small miracle. This simple meditation on an ordinary object suddenly brought magic and gratitude into the present. The apple tasted sweeter because of the journey.

Renowned Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, urges, “Make a ritual out of drinking your tea. Stop work and look deeply into your tea to see everything that went into making it: the clouds and the rain, the tea plantations and the workers harvesting the tea.” In this simple way, we can begin to build a mindfulness practice out of every day life.

I know that the concept of gratitude has been beaten to death as a buzzword and hashtag by Instagram yogis in the last few years, but I think the time has come to reclaim it as the quiet acknowledgement of small pockets of magic hidden in the mundane. When we can sit still in the muted banality of day-to-day existence and hone in on the bevy of tiny synchronicities that have occurred just to get to this precise moment, I think we’ll be well on our way to a deeper understanding of bliss.

Rob Breszny calls this phenomenon “pronoia,” which is the mindset that the universe is conspiring in your favor. Have you ever asked yourself how many things had to go right and how many millions of your ancestors had to successfully procreate just to get you to where you are standing right here and now? It’s pretty profound, isn’t it?

I love that this practice can be applied as an instant salve on top of a wrecked or stressful day, no matter your location. Simply close your eyes, take a deep breath, and peel away the layers behind an ordinary object. Your shoes, lunch, or bicycle are good places to start. When we begin to turn our focus to the appreciation of all that is and how it came to be, we can float past animosity, sorrow, and road blocks more easily, because we are honing a greater understanding of how the infinite puzzle of the world fits together.

In this very moment, there is nothing to worry about.

In this very moment, nothing is lacking.

In this very moment, there is much to be grateful for.

Shanti.

 

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