September 2, 2014

The Kettle Meditation. ~ Dave Spencer

Sharada Prasad CS/Flickr

So, a watched kettle never boils, right?

Of course, it does boil eventually doesn’t it? Possibly sooner than we think.

But we all know the phrase, and it makes perfect sense. Don’t just stand there waiting for the kettle, it’ll take forever. You’re wasting time, get something useful done while it’s boiling, quick!

There’s no time to lose. Get as much as done as you can. After all, what if there’s not enough time? What if we run out of time?

It’s a pervasive thing, this feeling of not having enough time. And it keeps us pushing forward into the future. Multi-tasking, planning, strategizing, working and worrying. And underneath all that, if we’re honest—and we may as well be—it’s fear, isn’t it?

Fear of not getting everything done, fear of not being good enough, fear of falling short.

But maybe there’s more time than we think. Maybe we’re already there anyway… Maybe we’ve already made it and we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. In which case, what’s the rush?

So, here’s a new game for you: the “Kettle Meditation.”

Step one, watch yourself when you put the kettle onto boil.

What do you find yourself doing? Getting the mugs ready for the tea? Checking Facebook? Planning a round the world trip in your head? Getting the mugs ready while you check Facebook and simultaneously plan a round the world trip in your head?

And then, consider the possibility that you could just stand there and do nothing while the kettle boils. Because, of course, a watched kettle does boil, and maybe the most productive thing we can do at that moment, oddly enough, is to stay still while it does. Take a long deep breath. Notice what’s going on inside your body. Take stock. Let it boil and let the world turn without you for a few moments.

Think of it as a holiday. A mini-break from all of the doing and forward motion of your busy life. It’s a hectic world out there and you deserve a bit of time off every now and then.

And if you think of the time it takes to boil a kettle in terms of long deep breaths, how long would it take? One breath? Three breaths? Five breaths? Can you spare a handful of long deep breaths while the kettle gently boils and the world turns without you? Can the world spare you a handful of breaths while you stay still and gently be just as you are?

Maybe there isn’t always time, but maybe there’s more time than you think.

You deserve to be relaxed and happy and that’s how we need you. That’s how we can be of most use to each other, as we keep each other company in this hectic world.

So that’s the game, the Kettle Meditation.

Think of the kettle as a “bell of mindfulness,” in the words of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Let it boil. Let the world turn without you for a few moments. Feel your feet on the floor and take a long deep breath. Take another long deep breath.

Then relax and smile as you pour your tea and move forward a little bit more gently into this crazy ride we call life.




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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Sharada Prasad CS/Flickr

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