I'm feeling quiet today, kind of hermit-monkish. As I write this, I realize that this statement implies a sense of withdrawal but that's not quite accurate. Rather, it's more like sinking deeply into the moment, into my life, into myself. It's setting aside some time to reflect, rather than stir up. It's pausing, rather than acting. It's a way of allowing all the clatter and chatter, the planning and predicting and the relentless leaning into to fall away for a few hours.
I call this 'putting down the struggle.' When I find myself getting stressed over the little things, antsy and restless, overly crabby and anxious I know it's time to unplug.
My solution is usually to stay at home, turn off the phone, TV, computer, radio. Sometimes I take on a simple task like cleaning my apartment, but I do it slowly and without ambition. Just sweeping and dusting and putting away some of the clutter. Maybe I'll wash some windows but again, the energy is calm and even, the idea is to sink into the task: the emphasis is on the activity and not about getting it done.
When I get this way, I want simple food, eaten at the table without TV/book/conversation to distract me. I want food that speaks of nourishment and the quiet pleasures of taste, texture, temperature. Sometimes I even eat my meals in three bowls, like they do in Buddhist monasteries.
For breakfast, the first bowl can be a hot cereal like oatmeal. In the second bowl, a few pieces of cut-up fruit and the third could be yogurt, perhaps with a swirl of maple syrup. Lunch is a few slices of bread and a simple soup, with a green salad. Dinner is plain, just a bowl of pasta or rice and sauteed kale on the side.
A solitary walk in the woods or hike up a mountain can function as monk-time for those of you with roommates or families at home. Or a visit to a museum, a slow meandering in the park or even a corner in a quiet cafe with a pot of tea will do. The point is to encourage a quiet focus, to internally reset and realign with what's most important.
OK, it's time for me to turn off the computer now and slip into silence. Whatever you do today, may your day be nourishing and meaningful and bright!
A Simple Soup for a Monkish Day
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon mild miso paste, or more to taste
In a sauce pan, saute the onion in a small amount of oil until wilted. Add sweet potatoes and cover with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently until the sweet potatoes are soft. Mash with a fork or whir with a stick blender until the soup is smooth. Dilute the miso in a little hot water and stir into the soup. Taste for more miso. Sometimes pepper is nice but not necessary. Serve hot in a bowl.
Related: Weekend Meditation: Fallow Time
(Image: Dana Velden)