Living or surviving

Are you living or surviving?

Much of what we do is on auto-pilot where our minds are elsewhere or caught up in anxiety. Thich Nhat Hhan talks about ‘…hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance …’ 

We’re never present! In all areas of our lives this can apply – are you truly living or simply surviving?

Survival Mode

We sometimes refer to housework as household ‘chores’. There’s that voice telling us that we ‘have to’ do the gardening, cleaning, wash the car, change the bedlinen etc.

At work there may be many mundane tasks that we rush through to get ‘it’ done. We ‘must’ meet a deadline or a project has ‘got’ to be completed. In essence, we often end up ‘enduring’ a job – parts of it or even the whole thing.

And does that mean we’re ‘enduring’ whole days of our lives?

Thich Nhat Hanh describes it so:

‘… we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.’

Live the Moment

This is a small reminder to appreciate the moment we’re in. The present moment right now.

So that while washing dishes or completing work that’s ‘got’ to be done you can shift your approach. The key is mindfulness.

Be present, be fully with the task in hand. Feel the blessing of this moment and feel grateful for it. You might even experience some wonder and joy within the task you thought couldn’t be so.

Living or surviving

‘Just slow down. Slow down your speech. Slow down your breathing. Slow down your walking. Slow down your eating. And let this slower, steadier pace perfume your mind. Just slow down…’


3 Ways to enjoy being mindful:

  1. A 6 Week Mindfulness & Meditation Course at Place of Serenity in East Hants. If this isn’t your area, look up a similar course that suits you. Living or surviving
  2. Sharpham Barn Retreat in South Devon offers 6 day mindfulness retreats where you experience mindful living – cooking, cleaning, gardening, eating and walking alongside other retreatants. It’s a lovely way to shift your perspective and remind yourself how ordinary experiences done mindfully can be pure magic.
  3. The Poetry of Mary Oliver – much of her work is about joyfully noticing, especially in nature. Try, ‘Mindful’ or ‘Such Singing in the Wild Branches’

And so life, however simple, can be a joy and a pleasure. What tasks might you slow down today and enjoy?


Mindfulness and Meditation


Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Coach

Place of Serenity


‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’ by Thich Nhat Hanh



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