I dream of a meditation retreat. But, with three high-energy children, three dogs, three cats, a rabbit, an absent-minded husband and a career guiding others to mindful living and travel, that dream remains a long way off. Peace, for now, often comes in the form of clean sheets and a soft pillow each night. I’ve learned, however, that in order to be my best, I need to seek out those Zen moments. Those all-too-fleeting times in my busy day when I get filled from within. When all else falls away and there’s only me. In the moment.
For the most part, I’ve stumbled across these Zen instances. Indeed, it seems, the harder I try — meditation, yoga, deep breathing — the more peace eludes me. Instead, I trip over it … in sometimes surprising places:
The dog park: I’ve known many dogs in my life and, without fail, have gained wisdom from each of them. At the dog park, I watch this wisdom played out like a Shakesperean play. On full display is diplomacy, respect and generosity. Of course, I also see aggression, hubris and greed, though it’s always kept in check by others. And, without fail, I see boundless evidence of gratitude. For sunshine, snow or rain — no matter. For friends large, small or in-between — no matter. And for the joy in this moment. I watch and am transported and returned, better than I was.
The running trail: There’s something in the rhythmic pounding of shoe on ground that makes the day’s missteps fall away, replaced by the possibility of getting it right next time. I rarely want to go running but am always better for having run — more centered and appreciative of my body, in spite of its aches, pains and bulges. It can still move me.
The kitchen sink: I’m blessed with a spectacular view out my back door, a view I take in daily as I sink my hands into warm soapy water to wash away my busy family’s morning mess. Water, of course, symbolizes life, birth, renewal, contemplation … and the simple practice of washing dishes allows me to quiet my mind and find peace in an otherwise hectic day.
My children’s smiles: There’s a flicker when I see my kids waiting for me after school, when their faces register pure joy. Before the babel-esque, “Mommy, can I invite Natalie over to play?” And the, “Did you get groceries? What’s for dinner?” Or the, “Why did you send me with strawberry yogurt for lunch? You know I only eat raspberry?” And in that moment, where I see my heart and soul writ large on the faces of my children, I feel peace.