Friday, November 22, 2013

Apple juice mindfulness

A few days ago I was boarding a plane from Singapore to Penang island, and noticed that my seat was next to a Theravada (Buddhist) monk in his 40's. He was wearing the traditional brown robe and was already seated.

Although interested in making a connection, I withheld conversation for most of the trip. At the end of the trip I discovered he was a Burmese monk (in the Mahasi tradition) headed for a meditation centre in Penang.

During the trip we were served a snack/drink, and we both chose apple juice as a beverage. Theravada monks due to their vows, do not eat solid food after midday, hence he only took a cup of apple juice. Myself not being particularly fond of airplane food also took the same.

I took about five minutes or so to finish the drink with some minor noting of its taste and color. However, I received a direct, silent teaching in mindfulness from the monk in becoming aware that he took around 20 minutes to finish the small cup. Each sip was savoured completely, mindfully, and slowly, no doubt attending to the sense perceptions such as taste etc., while drinking.

The event left a lasting impression on my consciousness and memory. No big deal, but it does show that mindfulness in action (when done with a high degree of awareness and intent) can and does impact those around us and in ways not always recognized.

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