At a retreat once in the UK with Martine Bachelor, I heard her talk of a practice which was taught in the monastery where she was as a nun. It seemed simple – to keep repeating the words “What is this” when involved in the different activities of the day. It was an exercise designed to allow the person create a gap or a pause, and notice what was before them, therefore encouraging them to enter more deeply into whatever was happening in that moment. It is a good practice for getting in touch with the felt sense in our body. It slows down the tendency to spin off into our stories and our fears. It develops our ability to fully experience the moment we are having, and this may strengthen our capacity for joy.
All religions point to the fact that being fully present is the only state in which you can wake up—not by somehow leaving.
So you have to find your own simple, grounded language to say that to yourself,
What is this moment, this situation, or this person trying to teach me?
Another one that I love is “This is a unique moment. Maybe I’m not so glad about it because it’s painful, but I don’t want to waste it, because it’s never going to happen again this way.
So let’s taste it, smell it, experience it”.