Being Present with Meditation

“We shall never have more time. We have, and have always had, all the time there is.” Bennet

Since moving on from a restaurant gig earlier this year, I feel I’ve been smacked in the face with a big block of time. The transition has been tough. Managing one’s own time is really tough.

Coming from being constantly on the move, on my feet, undertaking physical work for 12-17 hours a day (yes 17 hours is apparently quite the norm in Michelin kitchens), I felt I had zero time. Indeed, like many chefs I hardly had time to eat. I have to wonder if people even sleep in this sector. But on the flip side I constantly had things to do and my mind had no time to wander. You can be in the moment day in day out, at sun rise and sun down, Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday - and Monday? Knocked out by exhaustion.

But since saying goodbye to the whirlwind of kitchen chaos, with seemingly endless hours on endless days at hand, my mind began to wander again.

So I picked up on my reading. And not just surfing the web and the news, not even magazines but books. Lots of books. What a lifesaver and pleasure. They have given much needed order to my jumbled up thoughts and emotions - a structure, and outlet to express my thoughts and values with a new clarity.

With this new structure, I came to thinking about the focus we have on meditation at Food85. It is a practice of self-love through discipline. And whist the word discipline turns so many of us away, I have learnt more recently, that it is an art which can be as merciful as it is merciless.

Mediation is for me a tool to help me train my mind into transitioning from reacting to my emotions to acting according to my values. A tool that allows us to be present as much as we can, 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week, 730 hours a month, 8760 a year.

Apparently, we only suffer when there is a gap between our expectations and reality (yup, wise old Buddha). Surely the most painful reality is set up by feeling that you expected something more of yourself than what you said, did, or were able to ultimately, be. In essence, reacting to something emotionally and taking a certain path, that with hindsight, you may deem having been the wrong course of action.

The action of acting out of our values eliminates this because you weigh out all your options with a clear head, and follow the advice of the rational you, with all the knowledge and wisdom you have accumulated through experience. Making the best decision you could have made at that very moment in time, according to your values.

Therefore, a little discipline is a little self-love. Valuing your own time, each hour of the day, is the ultimate self-love and a beautiful way to spend your 657 000 hourson earth.

Lily x

For more reading:

Susan Neiman, Why Grow Up?

M Scott Peck MD, The Road Less Traveled A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

Farnham Street Blog