Stumbling into the Present Moment
I often find that the most beautiful moments of mindfulness lay hidden within the seemingly simple and mundane, ever so patiently waiting to be revealed. As much as I set an intention to approach life mindfully, I lose touch with the present moment just as we all do from time to time. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this; it’s what our minds naturally do. Contemplating over the past, planning for the future, or drifting into a state of whimsical day dreaming each offer opportunity for learning and growth. Every now and then, when swept away in one of these mind states, I stumble back into the here and now with awestruck reverence for the magnificence in the outwardly ordinary and routine.
I experienced just that earlier this evening while eating soup at my favorite Thai restaurant. This Thai restaurant is so special to me. I feel a sense of connectedness and comfort there. The chefs infuse intention and care into each dish prepared. I enjoy catching up with the lovely servers who always create a welcoming environment. I ventured there alone, as my friend I was meeting had a change in plans. As I arrived, my mind was wandering all over the place from my busy and challenging day. I found myself completely lost in thought when my soup arrived. And then it happened. A few bites into my soup, I was deeply moved by the beauty of a shitake mushroom delicately floating in coconut milk broth on my spoon. I paused with my spoon mid-air as I was bringing it to my mouth and relished in the exquisiteness of this tiny mushroom. I took in its visual features…the brown umbrella shaped cap, the delightfully asymmetrical and elongated stem, the way the light danced on the shiny surface as I playfully moved the spoon around. This little mushroom was absolutely stunning. I felt a sense of gratitude to the earth for providing me with this mushroom and to the people who had a role in cultivating and bringing it to my table. There was so much to be thankful for in this one tiny mushroom.
This moment of pausing on the mushroom's visual features created the space for mindfulness to enter my awareness. It broke the pattern of unconsciously moving my spoon to my mouth. If that pattern had continued, I would have finished my soup without truly experiencing or tasting one bite. Now that I had the space of awareness to work with, I made a choice to mindfully approach each spoonful. I shifted to the sensation of smell and savored in the subtleness of the mushroom’s scent ensconced in a fragrant sea of herbs and spices. After pausing on this sense for a moment, I intentionally chose to experience the senses of taste and feeling…the gentle woodsy flavor of the mushroom, the sponginess of the mushroom’s texture, the burst of sweetness as I bite into the tomato, and the delicate hints of ginger and lemongrass in the broth. I was flooded with a deep sense of appreciation for stumbling into this moment of mindfulness, and all of a sudden, the overwhelming beauty of the soup was jumping out at me. I paused for a moment to enjoy the range of vibrant colors from the carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, snow peas, cilantro, onions, and herbs. I explored the shapes of the vegetables with a beginners mind. I felt soothed by the wavy texted of the peeled carrots. I noticed how the structure of broccoli resembles a tree with the stalk being the trunk and the florets being the branches and leaves. I placed my spoon down and delighted in each bite. I allowed my sense of time to dissolve while I was with my soup. My mind felt clearer, and my heart felt lighter. Such magnificent beauty was eagerly waiting to be revealed within this seemingly ordinary mushroom and mundane act of eating soup. The present moment created the space for this channel to open. I feel such a sense of gratitude for stumbling into it. Mindfulness doesn’t always have to be effortful. I wasn’t searching for it in that moment. However, once I realized I stumbled into it, I made the choice to stay in a place of present awareness.
With Kindest Regards,