An invitation to tea
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
It is said the demon Mara tempted the Buddha (the enlightened one) with many things to keep him from enlightenment and it wasn't until he invited her to tea and befriended her that she lost her power and he moved along his path towards enlightenment.
I share Buddha's story because I was with a wonderful group of woman a couple nights ago most of whom I have known for years and I consider dear friends; and, in our discussion the question came up … so Deb really what is mindfulness? I gave them JKZ's definition "Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we pay attention on purpose in a non-judgmental way." But like most things mindfulness is so much better understood in an experiential way I would like to share with you what happen at the end of my Barre3 https://barre3.com/studio-locations/allentown class this morning.
Let me preface this by saying later today I am going to visit my cousin who a month ago had a severe stroke that has left her paralyzed on one side, unable to speak, or walk. Growing up were together most weekends and I love her and I am having some anxiety about what I might see when I walk into her hospital room.
So, it was at the end of my Barre3 class we had had a good 55 minute workout and like usual we were given an opportunity to have a shavasana or time to merely sit or lie on our mats and follow our breath and be present before ending the class. For me shavasana is like the dessert at the end of a good meal. Anyway, this morning as I lie there in corpse pose emotions just started to bubble up and tears began to come to my eyes. It caught me by surprise - it was if an unexpected visitor or two came knocking on my door as I lay there.
So, the mindfulness practitioner I am I brought mindful awareness to what I was feeling, and it sounded something like this in my head. "Ok, so this is sadness ... this is fear ... this is loss of how things were ... this is fear of what is to come. I then shifted my focus to sensations and I began to notice a slight tightness in my chest, my heart was heavy and a bit of hollowness too … some emptiness and a little dread. I stayed with the emotions, and sensations and I did not try and push them away. I took another breath or two and not only allowed these visitors to be there but also tried make space for them. That is not to say I didn't wish they would leave, since I was laying on the floor in the middle of a class of 20 women, but in that moment I focused my awareness on my breath which provided a little more space for the emotions, thoughts and sensations to be there. I tried my best to befriend these emotions even though they were uncomfortable I knew they were there for a reason. My thoughts were about the fragility of life and how time goes so quickly - how can I be turning 60 in a few days when it seems like we were all playing baseball in my grandmother's backyard yesterday.
Within maybe 5 minuets on the Barre3 floor these many visitors had come to call, I allowed them in and even offered them tea. They stayed a bit and then went on there way. The Buddha is said to have invited all the things he feared to tea. And that is what I was tried to do. I set the table put out my best china and asked whomever was present to come and sit at my table. It was only then after I gave them their due respect were they willing to move on. The class was over I had been a million different places in those last few moments yet I was present for each one of them. To me that is what mindful is.