Episode 45--How a Story about a Broken Goblet Reduces Anxiety and Stress
So many moms spend so much time worrying about what we cannot control--whether it's at work, at home, with our kids, our spouses, or ourselves. This level of anxiety and stress prevents us from being present in the moment and enjoying the moment.
In this episode, Jen introduces you to a parable or story about the broken goblet from Ajahn Chah, a Thai meditation master. The story helps us to appreciate the moment and be present in the moment, even when life is uncertain.
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Hello my friends!
Its August 2022, when I’m recording this. My family and I have just returned home from a phenomenal vacation to Door County. We go every year, and its always amazing. We love this vacation because it has something for everyone. Sandy beaches, art, hikes, and especially for me, early morning sunrises. This is a place that we go that quite honestly soothes my soul. I hope you have a place like this–a place that makes you feel that way.
This summer, we timed our vacation to help us as we wind down summer. Its mid August and we are definitely moving into back to school mode. And its about this time each year that I am reminded by how temporary all of this truly is. Summers speed by us. School lets out in early June and then before we know it 12 weeks have gone by and September’s call for back-to-school is staring us down.
Every year, the weeks go faster and faster. It seems like the years seem to fly by, each 365 day block of time somehow shorter than the last.
What is it about this time of year that brings up all these beautiful and bittersweet feelings?
Is it that soon each of my babies will be embarking on a new grade level at school, which is a reminder that they are growing up–one grade at a time? Maybe its because I love these summer days with them and know how fleeting they are as we gear up for all that fall will bring with work for me and my husband, school, and activities, like hockey? Or maybe its because each of my babies are fall and winter birthdays and so each month seems to bring another milestone with one of my kids officially turning a year older. Oh my friends, its beautiful and its bittersweet and sometimes, when I truly allow myself to feel it, I just weep. Out of sadness for all that has passed. Out of wonder and awe for all that is to be. Out of gratitude for all that currently is. It almost feels like “too much” to feel. Like if I allow myself to be open to those feelings, that they will sweep me away in a flood of emotions. But when I slow down and breathe through those emotions, it doesn’t feel scary. It feels loving. It feels blissed out. It feels like a wave of love and compassion and gratitude.
And it reminds me that all that we are is and all that our kids are and all that is around is is JUST TEMPORARY.
And that’s the case for everything in our life.
Its the case for summer. Which speeds by with its heat waves, rainy days, and days spent building sandcastles on the beach. We know when we build a sandcastle that it is just temporary, that the tide will come and sweep it away eventually. That the beach will prepare itself for a new child to build a castle of wonder from sand, shells, sticks, and rocks.
Just as the ocean tide sweeps away the sandcastle, so does the tide of time sweep away everything else.
The work that you are currently doing–whether you love it or hate it. Its just temporary.
The home that you are living in now–just temporary, whether its an apartment, a house, a mansion–it is just temporary. No matter how much you clean it, decorate it, or fill it, it will cease to be one day. It is aging and crumbling around you, even if you cannot see it.
The babies as they grow–whatever season you are in. It is temporary. The late nights, the temper tantrums, the time spent on the swingset, the snuggles, the bathtime giggles, the constant hugs and continuous questioning of “why, mama?” Why is the sky blue? Why does the water come out of the sink? Why can’t we have gummi bears for breakfast? Its all temporary.
The same is true for the others in your life. Whether its your significant other, your spouse, your friends, your family. Its all just temporary.
And its true for you too. Think about your body. And how its evolved. Did you appreciate it as a teenager or in your 20s, or like me, did you only see what was wrong with it? What it couldn’t do? What shape you could not will it into? What about now? Are you at peace with your body adn the wonderous work it does each day to keep you breathing, thinking, and moving?
When you realize and accept that all is temporary in life, it allows you the peace and the freedom to accept what currently is without attachment–and then to enjoy it, simply for what it is.
There is a beautiful story that I first heard about 8 years ago after my third was born. I heard this story during a time of great anxiety for myself. I had had my third baby, I was working full time in a busy litigation practice, and there had been a number of events–nationally, locally, and personally–which had reminded me of how fragile our lives and existence were. My anxiety was running particularly high, and I wasn’t able to enjoy or be present with my kids, because I was so anxious. It seemed like everywhere I looked bad things were happening. It seemed like at any moment everything and everyone I loved could be gone. And it seemed like I had no control over any of it. So, I distracted myself with tv, food, cleaning, even arguing with my husband–all too not have to feel what was happening inside my brain and body. Can you relate to this at all? Have you ever had a similar experience?
It was during this time, that I came across a story about a broken glass. It is a story that reminds us that life is uncertain and that everything is impermanent. That everything is in constant flux. And that yet, we can nonetheless enjoy and hold gratitude for what is in the present moment. I would have thought that a story that about impermanence would have made me more anxious at the time, but it didn’t. It actually brought me a great deal of peace, and to this day, helps me stay in an appreciate the present moment for all that it is. And I hope it does the same for you.
Here it is:
This is a story from Acchan Cha, who was a Thai Meditation master.
In the story, the he holds up a beautiful goblet. He turns it in his hand and he says, “do you see this goblet?” For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”
I’m not sure who I first heard the story from, but I distinctly remember standing in my kitchen and looking across the house to the living room when I heard it and my eyes settled on a blue vase sitting on the mantle above my fireplace. And ever since then, when I see that vase, I am reminded that it could break. And that I can appreciate it for what it is right now.
But this is not about a vase or a goblet. This is about everything around us. The objects, our children, the projects at work, our homes, even us, ourselves.
When you accept that whatever you are beholding is already broken and you accept its impermanence, then you relieve yourself of the suffering that can come from being overly attached to an object, a person, a job, a home, your children in their current age or stage of development. It also relieves you of the burden of trying to make moments perfect. Because everything is temporary. There is so much peace to be found in this teaching.
When I look at my children and I’m reminded of this story, I remember that every moment with them is precious and that they are precious and beautiful and wonderful just as they are now. That this moment is fleeting, and that even from one moment to the next they are changing and growing, and that I am here to witness adn appreciate it and to love on them so hard. To enjoy these moments with them through the lens of unconditional love. To appreciate them, just as Ajahn Chaa appreciates the goblet in his hand, accepting that one day it may break and appreciating it nonetheless in that moment.
My dear friends, may you soak up this day, this season of life, the joys and the sorrows. The pleasantries and the frustrations. May you find peace in the knowledge that it is all just temporary, and may you truly love and appreciate all that life, its impermanence and imperfections offers.
Okay my friends. Thank you for checking out this episode. If this resonated with you, be sure to head over to the Mom First Podcast page on facebook. Its there that you’ll learn more about the tools shared on this podcast, you’ll meet other working moms, and, its there, that you’ll be the first to know about the coaching program when it goes live, including the scholarships, and the foundation that I’m creating that will empower women owned businesses to thrive! Its Mom First on Facebook. I cannot wait to see you there!