Excerpt from Full Article, “The Most Precious Gift”, by Sunada
Thich Nhat Hanh: “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
I’ve now come to realize, sadly, that it’s a rare event when we’re really, truly present with others. There are many ways we can fall into the trap of not doing so. Our own views, agendas, and opinions come along with us, usually unwittingly, and can easily stand in the way of seeing others clearly, as they really are.
In my view, mindfulness has to begin with a respect for the other person’s dignity and rationality. By this I mean, no matter how much I might disagree with what they’re doing, I make an effort to understand why they’re doing it and what circumstances got them there. It means suspending my own views and really appreciating the situation completely from their perspective – not just intellectually, but in my heart.
Mindful presence also means putting my self-centered motivations aside. Even if I can’t get rid of them, I can at least try to avoid using them as the filters through which I look at the situation. This includes putting aside my fears. What is it that prevents me from opening my heart to this other being? Am I afraid of getting hurt? Making a fool of myself? Making a professional blunder? What is it, really, that puts a wall of separation between me and this other human being who is fundamentally just like me?
And above all, mindfulness is about patience. It recognizes that changes need time, and that we cannot make things happen on our desired schedule. And some things are completely beyond our ability to change (as people often are). We can’t make a flower bloom when we want it to. In some cases, it might not bloom at all. But we can set the best possible conditions to support its happening. So we fertilize the soil and provide water and sunshine. Then we must wait, patiently and without expectations.