This morning I realised that it had been four weeks since I published my last blog. I used to post twice a week and had scheduled posts for our holiday break with the intention to pick up blogging again after my return early January.
However, the universe had different plans, and those of you, who read my January newsletter will remember that I had a profound spiritual experience at the wellness retreat where we spent the last days of 2016.
To process my thoughts and emotions and to gain clarity about what had happened I started writing about it. Within three weeks, I had almost 10,000 words on paper. My mind was trying to make sense of it all, and I just could not concentrate on any other posts for my blog.
At the same time, I discovered the book At Home in The World by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Zen master and teacher of mindful living. I devoured his book, which is a collection of autobiographical short stories. You can read it from start to finish or open it up randomly and pick one story only.
There were a couple of stories that were eye-openers for me, as I tried to understand the spiritual experience I had encountered.
The first one is called The Hermit and The Well. In this story, Thich Nhat Hanh recounts a childhood experience. His schoolteacher told his class one day that on top of a mountain in North Vietnam there lived a hermit – a monk who sat quietly day and night to become peaceful like Buddha. Thich Nhat Hanh was very excited as he had never met a hermit before. The next day, the class set off for the trip to the mountain. When they had climbed to the top, they still had not met the hermit, and the young Thich Nhat Hanh was very disappointed. He kept climbing further and further up until he found a natural well, a big pool surrounded by rocks. As he was very thirsty from the strenuous climb, he knelt down and drank some of the refreshing water from his hands.
Have you met your hermit yet?
He writes “The water tasted so good. I had never tasted anything as good as the water. I felt completely satisfied; I did not need or want anything at all – even the desire to meet the hermit was gone. I had the feeling that I had met the hermit. I imagined that perhaps the hermit had transformed himself into the well.”
Even as an adult, he could remember this profound, spiritual experience. “It was many years ago that I climbed that mountain. But the image of the well and the quiet, peaceful sound of the dripping water are still alive inside me. You too may have met your hermit. Maybe as a rock, a tree, a star, or a beautiful sunset.”
Isn’t this wonderful? When I read this story, I realised that I had met my hermit during a massage treatment on the last day of 2016. This treatment has changed my life. I feel more grounded, mindful and reconnected with myself; at the same time, uplifted and excited about the year ahead. I am sure that I will never forget the feeling of inner peace, love and compassion that streamed through my body after this mesmerising treatment.
Savour the present moment
The second story that stood out for me is called Life Is Our True Home. In this story, the author talks about the Buddhist tradition of starting every meditation session with the sound of a bell, a gentle reminder that we should come home to ourselves and concentrate on our body in the here and now.
“Our true home is the present moment, whatever is happening right here and right now.” This statement reminded me of one of our yoga teachers, who often challenges us in saying that true happiness comes from the space between wanting and not wanting. If people are unhappy they usually either want something that they don’t have or do not want something they have.
“When we return to the right here and right now with the energy of mindfulness, we will be able to establish our true home in the present moment,” writes Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.
There are many more nuggets of wisdom in this book, and I started practising mindfulness in my everyday life. It is challenging at times, especially when my busy mind can’t let go of things from the past or starts worrying about the future.
Nuggets of wisdom
If you are in the process of downsizing your home with all the challenges that come with it, I encourage you to read his book and learn strategies how to focus on the present moment no matter what you are doing. By focussing on the here and now, being grateful for each single moment we have, we live more mindful and become happier eventually. And the universe will sort our path out anyway. More than anything, in the past weeks, I came to the conclusion that our life is universal business. As the Marcus Aurelius wrote 2,000 years ago, “whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time. The twining strands of fate wove both of them together: your own existence and the things that happen to you.” Reflect on some of my favourite meditations from the Roman Emperor in this post.
Change your perspective
Are you attached to the past or worrying about the future? Change your perspective and focus on the here and now. One of the easiest exercises is to focus on your breath when you feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do. By mindfully breathing in and out you come back to your body in this moment. This moment is the only time you have right now. So you may as well make the most out of it.
Follow the mantra of the Buddha: “You have to make the present moment into the most wonderful moment of your life.”
Everything else will fall into place.