My Father-in-law and I were talking about coffee the other day. We established that a good cup of coffee starts out strong and bitter with the first couple sips. If it starts out that way, by the next few sips it begins to taste perfect. Strong but the kind of sensation that gives you chills throughout your body as you drink it down to the last flavorful drop.
Life’s challenges are a bit like this. They start out bitter and overwhelming and gradually as you practice gratitude and mindfulness things begin to become not only tolerable but even, shall I say, flavorful.
I have begun to notice the different sensations of life. Each activity has its own feeling associated with it. Not just affect but a cognitive response as well. Running with people is different than running by myself, and running is a completely different experience than the meditation class I am part of. When I run by myself I am aware of my surroundings in a serene kind of way. Everything around me just is. It doesn’t matter if the wind is blowing or the stones under my feet make a sound. That is just what happens when I run. When I run with others I am not in that calm, serene state but rather stressed. I sense this connection with others and this visceral need to beat them. It is competition, and I am no longer aware of the natural surroundings. I am aware of the people, their breath, their stride, their pace. Finally, when I am in meditation class I am aware of both my surroundings and myself. I can feel my heartbeat, my breath, the pressure of my feet touching the blocks and the feeling my skin making contact with my clothes. It is all different.
Each sensation and experience is a different flavor, but each flavor is meant to be experienced more fully than the last. Enjoy that cup of coffee. Every sip.
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” – Rumi