Our last Spiritual Friday discussion was on the topic of awareness. I shared a great short story about focusing on how much we have instead of how much we don’t have.
The Black Dot
One day, a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They waited anxiously at their desks for the test to begin. The professor handed out the question paper, with the text facing down as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked his students to turn the page and begin. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions – just a black dot in the center of the page. The professor seeing the expression on everyone’s face, told them the following:
“I want you to write what you see there.”
The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.
At the end of the class, the professor took all the exams and started reading each one of them aloud in front of all the students. All of them, with no exceptions, described the black dot, trying to explain its position in the middle of the sheet, etc. After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor began to explain:
“I am not going to grade on you this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same happens in our lives. We have a white paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots. Our life is a gift given to us by G-d, with love and care, and we always have reasons to celebrate – nature renewing itself every day, our friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, the miracles we see every day, etc.
However, we insist on focusing only on the dark spots – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend etc. The dark spots are very small compared to everything we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds.
Take your eyes away from the black spots in your life. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you.”
Charlene then led us in a mindfulness meditation and we followed with some readings by the patients. We spent quite a bit of time taking their prayer requests – when the patients ask us to pray for their loved ones, each other, and occasionally for themselves. It has been said that prayer is a way that deepens the awareness that we are all connected.
We also ask the patients to share their joys – good things that have happened to them in the past week. This was a practice in awareness and mindfulness, to be fully present in the moment and fully present to each other, listening.
We served the patients cupcakes and lemonade and asked them to eat mindfully, to focus on tasting and chewing, the flavor and texture. Again, this was a practice of being fully aware, mindful, and grateful. They got it!
We then asked the patients:
- When are you most aware of something greater than you?
- Why is being aware and mindful spiritual?
- Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been or ever seen?
- Why is awareness so important in recovery?
“A reporter once asked Mother Teresa what it feels like to be called a living saint. She replied, ‘Holiness is not just for a few people. It’s for everyone, including you, sir.’ When we look through spiritual eyes, we can see holiness everywhere and in everyone. We are standing on holy ground.” – Science of Mind
This reading began a deeper discussion about the concept of holiness, with a patient asking, “Does that mean we’re all holy, but we just didn’t know it or show it or see it?” And another asking, “What does it mean to look through spiritual eyes and do we all have them?”
“Today, let’s look for our G-d or Higher Power in all our comings and goings. If we will only look, we can see G-d’s handiwork in everything and everyone, including ourselves.” – Sandy Beach
Be aware and mindful of the beauty all aroundyou.