I have a necklace bearing the inscription “This is it” by Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
This is it:
This is it. This is all there is.
This is it is a call to mindfulness.
It is a reminder to BE in the present moment. This is the moment we have been waiting for. This is the moment that matters.
Mindfulness means bringing our nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. We can be aware of our actions, thoughts, feelings, and the sights and smells and sounds of life all around us.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean “thinking of nothing.” It’s not “clearing your mind.”
It’s just awareness.
When we are laughing, we are aware that we are laughing.
When we are sad, we are aware that we are sad.
It’s being present with exactly what we’re doing.
When we do the dishes, we do the dishes.
When we play with our children, we play with our children.
When we comfort a tantrum-throwing child, we comfort a tantrum-throwing child.
It doesn’t mean we have to love every minute of our lives.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean we love washing the dishes. It simply means we’re aware of the sensation of the water, and the smell of the soap, without attaching a judgment to it. It’s about focusing on the task at hand. If you’re too busy to find time for meditation, washing the dishes can be your meditation. All you have to do is wash the dishes.
Practicing mindfulness means we simply accept the present moment for what it is. Because it is what it is.
Because this is it.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean we have to be so absorbed in the present moment that we can’t plan for the future.
When we are making plans for the future, we can be aware that we are making plans for the future.
We can still have goals and dreams and aspirations. But the only way we will achieve them is through what we do in this moment.
This is it.
We can be mindful of where we want to be, and focus our efforts in the present moment on what we need to do to get there.
We don’t need to dwell on the past. We don’t need to worry about all the worst possible scenarios.
When I first got my necklace, I put it on and said to myself, “This is it.” And the next words that popped into my head were, “This is the holy moment.”
And then I thought, “Holy. Wholly. Be wholly present in the moment.”
For often, we are not wholly present in the moment. This is it, but we are often mentally a thousand miles away from it, wrapped up in regrets, memories, worries, or daydreams. We may drive for several minutes and realize we weren’t paying attention to what was around us. We read a page in our book and realize we haven’t actually read a word. We play with our children, and when they ask, “Right, Mommy?”, we realize we haven’t really been listening.
But this is it. This is the holy moment.
I wasn’t sure how I liked the religiously loaded connotation of that word. So I researched it. What does “holy” really mean?
I was surprised to find that the origin of the word was English/Germanic, and not Latin. It first appeared in English in 1382, in an early English translation of the Bible. “Holy” meant “that which must be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated.”
It is similar to the Scottish hale, meaning health, happiness, and wholeness.
It is also related to the Greek hieros, meaning sacred or “set apart.”
Holy. Wholly. Sound, healthy, entire, complete, sacred.
This is it. This is the moment, the holy moment. It cannot be divided.
Nor should our attention to the present moment be divided, though it often is. To make it a holy moment, we must be fully present. We must be aware.
Can we do this all day every day? Probably not. We are human, and our minds wander and chatter away, because that is what minds do.
But we can practice.
We can practice bringing our attention to the present.
We can practice spending five minutes a day just paying attention to our breath.
We can bring mindful attention to one part of our daily routine ~ brushing our teeth, washing the dishes, walking the dog, or driving to work.
Because this is it.
This is the holy moment.
This is the moment to be wholly present, to be sound, happy, healthy and complete.
This is it.