Perceptions of a Kettle

I recently heard Ying Chen’s (a guest dharma teacher at Insight Meditation South Bay) talk titled Dancing with Elements. She gave a great description of how to practice mindfulness of the body along with an example of how thoughts cloud reality.

Ying described a time when she saw children running around the pool while dropping her son off at swimming practice. She thought to herself this little girl is cute, and that little girl is clumsy. And then, she just saw all the children as skeletons running around the pool. 

I recalled a time I was at a friend’s house dog sitting and decided to make myself a cup of tea. I placed the kettle on the stove. A few minutes later, I smelled rubber burning. What I thought was a stovetop kettle was actually an electric kettle!  How many times have I seen something, or more importantly someone, and not understood what the thing really is or who they really are?

Mindfulness can help us to p-a-u-s-e, become aware of our thoughts, and question them. I have experienced and witnessed so much stress and suffering by accepting our thoughts at face value and not questioning whether they are true or not. 

I know this is all so easy for me to say AND so hard to do! Becoming more aware of our experience enables us to drop deeper into the real truth; giving birth to more compassion and understanding, while reducing stress and suffering.