I have a question for those of you who have dogs. Have you ever stopped to consider how naturally Mindful your furry friend is? Do they lie awake at night fretting over where the next meal or walk is coming from? Do they go over and over the details of the events of the day? Of course not. Dogs live for the moment. They immerse themselves in what is happening now. They are not bothered about how they look or what other dogs think of them. They don’t dwell in the past or worry about the future. They are in the here and now. They just are.
Watch your fur baby (I love that term) next time they are playing. Healthy, well adjusted dogs will abandon themselves totally to their play. Everything else is forgotten in the pursuit of enjoyment. It can even reach the point that their human has to step in to stop them exhausting themselves.
When out for a walk your dog is keenly aware of their surroundings. Unlike their human who is most likely preoccupied with what is happening inside their mind (or focused on their smart phone), the dog is soaking up through smell, sound and sight all that is happening around them. They have curiosity about what is around the next corner. They feel themselves to be part of the living, breathing world that surrounds them.
I have three dogs (pictured at the top of this post). An 8 year old Patterdale called (Grumpy) Mutley. A two year old Jack Russell called (Hyper) Pippy and a nine month old Jack-a-poo who goes by the name (Chilled) Tiggy (who even has a facebook page by the way! - here). I often watch them going about their daily lives and feel they have a lot to teach me. They are not after fame or fortune because they are happy to enjoy even the little things in life. After they have had a spat between themselves over a toy or bone and sorted out what belongs to who they hold no grudges. They totally chill out and relax when tired - just see left. They are wonderful teachers of Mindfulness.
One of the best examples of Mindfulness I’ve yet to come across is that of the Japanese tea ceremony (Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese). The preparation of tea during the ceremony calls for the undivided attention and focus of the practitioner. The guests are considered with every gesture and movement with even the placement of the utensils having predefined locations. Deep silence and serenity coupled with a lot of spiritual depth are key components.
The tea ceremony has had a long history in which to cultivate this high degree of Mindfulness. The book “Cha Ching” written during the eighth century by a Chinese Buddhist priest taught the proper method of preparing tea and has been said to have influenced today’s style of the tea ceremony. However it wasn’t until the 13th century, during the Kamakura Shogunate, that tea became a kind of status symbol in Japan. Tea tasting parties became popular and eventually developed through the following centuries into the various schools of Japanese tea ceremony that exist today.
The lesson we can draw from this is that all of us can apply Mindfulness to many of our everyday activities. Although I’m not saying we should make it as elaborate as the Japanese tea ceremony we can still make a little ceremony of our own when we make a cup of tea (or coffee for that matter). Rather than casually throwing in a tea bag and then pouring in boiling water without a second thought try the following:-
Mindfully resolve to take the time to make your tea.
Fill the kettle. Listen to the water running in. Hear how the noise alters the fuller the kettle becomes.
While the kettle is boiling (hear how it sounds), mindfully lay out the cup and spoon. How do they feel in your hands? Are they cool or warm? What sound do they make when you place them down?
Take the tea (whether loose or in a tea bag) and smell it. Look at it closely and really see what it looks like. Feel the texture of the tea or the tea bag between your fingers. Can you hear any sound as you roll it in your fingers? Maybe even taste a little bit and see what it is like.
Do the same for the sugar if you have any.
If you take milk then smell that as well. Notice how different it is from the other things you have just smelt. Again taste a little.
Once the kettle has boiled (again experiencing the sound it makes) pour it over the tea. Watch the steam from the water as it rises in the air. Can you smell the hot tea? Is it any different from that of the cold tea before?
Add your milk and sugar if desired but take your time. Slowly pour in the milk or spoon in the sugar. Notice how it affects the surface of the tea as you do so.
When cool enough take a sip of the tea. Can you feel the warm steam against your face? What does the tea taste like? If you have added milk or sugar can you taste those?
Sit back and enjoy the rest of the cup. Take this teafulness time for yourself.
Think of other seeming mundane tasks where you could apply the principles of Mindfulness. Ironing or vacuuming spring immediately to mind. Whatever the task may be take every opportunity to practice your Mindfulness. It will help ease your day.
Thank you to the following websites for information. Any mistakes made above are of course mine.