A friend of mine was perpetually complaining or was always unhappy about something. If it wasn’t her friends or helper, it was her husband and the children – or the insurance agent. She got upset at the slightest fault of people serving her in restaurants and shops, and always wrote to their management to voice her dissatisfaction. If the management did not respond, or satisfy her with their response, she would then get angry with the company. Things were fine on one of the rare occasions when she had nothing to grumble about, but something invariably irked her sooner or later. Like the evening she was sitting in her luxurious lounge and glanced at her newly installed curtains to find that one of the chains on the curtain rail had come off its track. As it was past working hours she had no option but to call the company the next day. But that night she was so depressed she could not make an immediate complaint, she lost sleep over the incident.
Sensing she was not giving herself the chance to enjoy a peaceful life, I tried to advise her to take life easy and not let minor matters bother her without any success! Then I showed her an inspirational excerpt from a book written by a Vietnamese priest – Thich Nhat Hanh, and told her that she was like apple juice in a glass being stirred non – stop!
The priest related how he gave a young girl in an orphanage a full glass of home made apple juice poured from a jar, after first serving three of her friends. Since her juice was from the bottom of the jar it had some pulp in it. When she noticed the particles the young girl pouted and refused to drink it. Half-an-hour later, the young girl was thirsty and asked for a glass of water from the priest. He reminded her of the glass of apple juice on the table and asked her to drink that first. Turning to look at it, the girl saw that the pulp has settled and the juice looked clear and delicious. After drinking half of it, she asked the priest “Is this from a different jar?” “No” he answered, “ It’s the same one as before. It sat quietly for a bit, and now it is clear and delicious.” The young girl was curious. “The juice tastes really good. Is it meditating like you?” she asked. “No” the priest answered, “lets just say that I imitate the apple juice instead when I sit. That is closer to the truth”.
If we rest our mind in pleasant thinking and not submit to the unnecessary worries that will not really affect our lives – we too can become clear.
Clarity gives us strength,hope and serenity.
By seeing that the apple juice became clear after resting, it’s possible to see that if we rest our mind in pleasant thinking and not submit to the unnecessary worries that will not really affect our lives – we too can become clear. This clarity refreshes us and gives us strength, hope and serenity. Those tiny bits of pulp only have to follow the laws of gravity to fall gently to the bottom of the glass. Our thoughts obey no such law. On the contrary, they buzz feverishly like a swarm of bees. And so our thoughts cannot settle like the apple juice.
You do not need to free your thoughts or feelings to be at peace. A peaceful mind does not mean a mind empty of thoughts,sensations or emotions. Whilst meditation and yoga can be helpful they are not essential in achieving a peaceful mind. We can be at peace, not only while sitting but also in the midst of a busy schedule, looking after the home and children, or whilst working or walking.
I must admit that a few years ago, before I read this motivating passage,I was occasionally flustered with my work schedule. Starting early in the morning at 7:00 am with my gym routine for about a hour, I literally rushed though breakfast, had my bath and ran down the steps, as I’ve been told this helps to build up my bone density so I do this instead of taking the lift. Getting into the car, my mind would immediately run through my appointments for the day. The projects I had to co-ordinate with my workshop and other important things. As soon as I stepped into my gallery, it would be a non-stop day. By the end of it I would be hungry and eat my dinner with work still on my mind. As soon as I reached home I would sit in front of my computer and continue with my paperwork so that I was “ clean ” the next day. By the time I went to bed it would be past midnight. And as soon as I opened my eyes I would repeat the same routine. I think back to that time and realise I was like a glass of apple juice being shaken continuously.
Now I am more conscious of my stress levels. When they rise I imagine I am like an unsettled glass of apple juice. If you come into my gallery and notice me sitting back doing nothing, with piles of paper and framing articles on my table, you would know I am trying to “mimic” the apple juice. I’m allowing the pulp to sit and clear my mind, in order to feel fresher.
This exercise also applies to many other occasions. If you’re having an argument with your spouse or your boss and find yourself getting worked up, imagine that you are like the unclear apple juice – full of floating pulp.
Take a break and excuse yourself for a while and move elsewhere to clear your thoughts. You’ll find that when you return to continue your conversation you’ll be more in control – you might even realize you were acting unreasonably before.
It has been reported that moving house or country is the most stressful event you can experience, second only to a divorce. The arrangements with the packer, last minute purchases and the administrative procedures can be mind-boggling and taxing. You start to get temperamental and often scream at the workers and contractors involved in the move. This is the time to apply the apple juice story and try to settle the pulp as many times as you can throughout the day. Tell yourself it will not get better if you are highly strung and stressed out.
She continues to do this until she, like the pulp, slowly settles to reveal a clear glass of apple juice! Sometimes it takes longer than she’d like, but it always works.
The next time you are about to lose your cool with your boss, your spouse or your friends,try practicing this simple exercise. You will be surprised how it will also work effectively for you.