Celebrating Sweet and Savory Choices August 2, 2016 11:31
We have choice, and our choices direct our paths. They may not define us, but they do lead us from one moment to the next. Each experience—each moment, has something unique to teach us.
This morning, I chose to drive to Bloomington to attend a lecture at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center. Afterwards, I chose to go to Anyetsang’s Little Tibet for lunch. I do not regret either choice.
Currently, I’m sitting under a red patio umbrella. A late summer breeze teases colorful prayer flags overhead. I can hear the sounds of a fountain gurgling behind me. Cicadas are grinding away the hot afternoon in their shrill, spiral cries as steady traffic hums along 4th Street.
I have the patio mainly to myself, and I have the time and freedom to enjoy a mango lassi—and to savor every bite of the cabbage dumplings—pan-seared and served with soy sauce. A sparrow hops around under my table, and heads of black-eyed Susans gently nod in encouragement.
I am at ease. I am at peace. I am savoring this present moment.
Earlier, I had considered stopping by the Jordan Greenhouse on the IU campus to see Wally, the titan arum, or corpse flower, in full bloom. The corpse flower blooms only once every ten to twenty years, and it emits a strong odor similar to the stench of rotting flesh. It’s a botanical wonder, and seeing this plant in full bloom would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, vegetarian momos were calling my name, so I chose Little Tibet over Wally. Besides, isn’t every moment a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? (I Googled Wally later in the day and watched him unfold online--so this choice was a win-win).
Every choice we make carries effects or consequences. The more mindful and present we are, the more mindful and present our choices are. Our lives are like malas, in this way. The beads represent the beautiful aspects of life (prayer flags, sunshine, momos), and the knots represent the challenges (the stench of rotting flesh). Challenge and beauty are interconnected and balanced, and as we progress through the circuit of our lives from moment to moment, we have the choice to be present—to learn from each experience—to enjoy and savor each bead and knot of our lives.
Renew, Recharge, Restring February 6, 2016 23:02
Nothing is permanent. Nothing is fixed forever in time and space.
Over time, a well-used mala will eventually stretch, pull, and break--and will require restringing. A fresh sutra and tassel can rejuvenate a mala, infusing fresh energy and life into a mantra and meditation practice as well. It can renew our resolve, giving our practice a boost with a fresh pop of color and strong, tight knots of support.
Just as a fresh perspective can shed light on a recurring problem or a rekindled sense of appreciation for an everyday occurrence, a restrung mala can bring us back to what matters--or at the very least, an awareness, a mindfulness of what's right in front of us.
The beads feel different between the fingers. The journey toward the guru is smooth--solid--secure.
Small changes and shifts can lead to positive outcomes. After weeks of cold temperatures, overcast skies, and snow, the sun finally emerged, and I, along with half of Greenwood, waited in line for thirty minutes at Mike's Car Wash.
I don't mind waiting--I used that time to chant in the quiet confines of my car--and I knew that the wait would be worthwhile. At the end of it all, after the warm sprays of water, the rhythmic thumping of large whirring brushes--after surrendering to the necessary cycles of rinse-wash-rinse-dry, my car and I would emerge clean and sparkling.
A car wash does not lead to a miraculous transformation--and nothing dramatic had changed, really. However, sometimes miraculous things dwell in the ordinary. Having salt and dirt washed away--dull streaks on windows cleaned--it gave me a renewed appreciation for where I was, for what I had. The path before me was sharper, clearer. I noticed things on my way home that I hadn't paid attention to before, and my mood had lifted.
Familiarity can lead to taking people, places, and things for granted. Taking the same route over again can create a dullness--a foggy haze over the mind and senses. Whether it's driving on familiar streets or completing another round of a mala that you've used for years, taking the time to restore and renew is critical to your meditation practice, and to your life in general.
**In addition to offering one-of-a-kind malas, Middle Moon Malas can also restring malas that have stretched or broken from use. Send us a message through the Contact Us tab for rates and services.