Mindful Water Boil

April 12, 2018

A watched pot never boils. It may feel like that and yet it isn't actually true, right? How many other things do we think and say, again and again, without checking in to see if they are true? They may have once been true.  Or we may have misunderstood the expression to begin with. 


I remember the first time when, after 10 years of daily meditation practice, I finally figured out what was meant by, "you can't have your cake and eat it too." Turns out to be a very logical and cogent point of strategy and yet for the longest time I thought it was just something about me not deserving cake.  Or what about when we shorten or forget part of what started us down a road of thought to begin with? For example, when someone says they are "between a rock", or "damned if they do"? If we don't know the second part of the "truth" then we won't get the right of it at all.


So what does this have to do with the pot or kettle boiling?  Watching water boil is a wonderful way to practice paying attention to our minds. Just like when a zen practitioner meditates facing a stone wall, the activity of watching water boil can give us a chance to see exactly what state of mind we are in.  We can watch our thoughts while we wait. We can listen to the sounds of cooking. If we are using something that allows us to see the actual water, we can watch and see what happens in that process. Breathing, and watching water as it boils gives us training for life in a society of queuing, being put on hold, driving in traffic, and waiting -- for our shift to be over, our mood to improve, or our peaches to ripen. If we can not be happy, or at least content and relaxed, while waiting, we could lose hours of our life per week to dissatisfaction, stress, and aggravation.


That watched pot does boil eventually, as long as the conditions are right. And we can have a cup of tea or a pasta dinner at the end of it. But I beg you not to wait to enjoy yourself until the end of the process. Dance around, sing a song, breathe and de-stress, or just give yourself the space to be a person watching a pot boil.  When we are on holiday we make a point to doing a bit of nothing.  How about not waiting to be at the beach before enjoying a deserved moment of peace?

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