I ended my Twelve Days of Amy by spending my birthday at Blue Cliff Monastery in the Hudson Valley. Founded by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, this quiet, peaceful monastery rests upon 80 acres of land that served as a beautiful backdrop for a Day of Mindfulness with the monks.
Throughout the day, I experienced a Dharma talk, a silent walking meditation, singing with the monks, Dharma sharing and a lovely mindful lunch that included washing our dishes by hand afterwards … a simple opportunity to practice mindfulness in small everyday tasks.
I felt incredibly fortunate to be in the presence of these sweet, serene monastics who live gently and humbly, with complete devotion to the practice of mindfulness. They lead the way in a slow walking meditation which took us through the woods and down to a small lake where a rumbling waterfall flowed under a bridge, a statue of Buddha stood in the distance and 40 or so of us simply stood quietly listening, seeing and feeling that moment.
When we returned, I noticed a sign above the shrine to Buddha that simply said “This Is It”. Nothing profound – except its utter profoundness. A three-word reminder that this is all there is. This moment. This experience. This breath.
All that has come before and all that will happen next are simply memories or illusions. Only in this breath am I truly experiencing the richness of life.
Sadly, I can’t spend every day at beautiful places like Blue Cliff learning from teachers of mindfulness. But this morning, I shared coffee with someone very special to me. We sat silently enjoying the taste and the smell and the warmth of the mugs in our hands. And I had a moment of gratitude as I realized “this is it.”