Monks, a Mandala and a Boy

As some of you may have noticed, One Nice Thing encourages readers to Share Your Thing. Week 15 is honored to hold its spot for our very first guest post about a recent visit to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. If you have something nice to share, please email it to onenicething@gmail.com. Enjoy!

Photo via David Stephensen

Regular readers of One Nice Thing will know that my partner’s blog is all about being mindful. It’s not about something nice she did last year, it’s not about worrying about something in the future, it’s about appreciating the here and now and being fully engaged in the present moment.

Being more mindful is something I strive towards, albeit at an uneven pace. One of the best things about having my partner and our son in my life is how they both remind me about being more mindful on a regular basis.

In October, we took our son to the art gallery to see the giant sand mandala being created by Tibetan monks. The mandala is intricately detailed and is made with one fine stream of sand passing over and over until it is time to change the colour of the sand or replenish it. The creation of a mandala is the epitome of being mindful. The fact that it is made of sand and can be (and is) swept away is a reminder of the impermanence of life and the value of appreciating the present moment.

Our son was enthralled with the colours and designs of the mandala, so much so he clearly would have loved to have crawled through the whole thing. He loved looking at it as closely as we would let him and he enjoyed watching the monks as they created it, one mindful stream of sand at a time.

We went off to the side to look at a table of Tibetan butter sculptures where a monk was sitting. Our son, social butterfly that he is, reached his arm out and started smiling and babbling at the monk. Without words, the monk smiled back and waved. Our son repeated. So did the monk. And so on. It was a beautiful moment. The monk then presented our son with a little string and bead mandala to play with. As engaged in the present moment as always, his attention left the monk and turned to the blue and white colours of the mini-mandala.

It was a beautiful moment – for our son, for the monk, and for my partner and I as outside observers to this intimate exchange between monk and baby. It was another great lesson from my son about the beauty of mindfulness and it is a lesson I will try to remember and build on as I continue my journey through life and fatherhood.

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