everyday mysticism

Updated On — 11th Oct, 2022


There is a way to live your ordinary life in pristine peace and joy just as it is right now. This is the way of everyday mysticism, yet it’s not about any “ism” at all.

The meditation teacher Larry Rosenberg, in one of his talks, recalls seeing a cartoon once of a Zen monk walking along a beach carrying a huge bag over his shoulders that was so heavy his footsteps were like craters.

On the bag was written one word – ME.

putting down the heavy bag

This is the burden our meditation helps us set aside, so our path through this life is lighter.

This year, I don’t think I’ll make any resolutions. Well, except for maybe one. I resolve to live a little more happily.

And that comes by clearly seeing how I make myself unhappy. How I keep carrying this heavy bag around. Even after I put it down temporarily in meditation, I manage to pick it up again after a little while.

self-improvement an oxymoron?

Making a set of resolutions implies needing to improve myself, be better at something, or change my body somehow. But Pema Chodron asks us to consider  whether self-improvement is an oxymoron; does what we already have really need improving?

no regrets

The blogger Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui, a working, single mom who writes about minimalism and the anti-consumption movement, recently wrote:

What if I just accept this mediocre body of mine that is neither big nor small? Just in between. And I embrace that I have no desire to work for rock hard abs or 18% body fat. And I make peace with it and decide that when I lie on my deathbed I will never regret having just been me.

seeing through the masks

This year, I resolve to see how I am when I am being inauthentic. How I carry around this big, heavy bag of me. I resolve use mindfulness to see through the heavy masks I make to hide behind.

I resolve not to keep trying to be someone I am not. Some fantasy I want to grow into, a Tom 2.0.

the way of everyday mysticism

There is a way to live your ordinary life in pristine peace and joy just as it is right now. This is the way of everyday mysticism, yet it’s not about any “ism” at all.

Mary Oliver’s poem “Yellow” reminds us:

There is a heaven we enter
through institutional grace
and there are the yellow finches bathing and singing
in the lowly puddle.

Can you reflect on what it means to just be here, now, without pretense, free and open, relaxed and at peace – “bathing and singing in the lowly puddle” of our life as it is?

sitting quietly and breathing

There are moments in our breath meditation practice when we are just sitting and breathing. There is a feeling of being breathed, instead of breathing to get something.

A maturing practice, a deepening practice, is a more chill practice. Just the innocence of a body sitting quietly and breathing.

Meditation can turn into a kind of extreme sport, with elaborate training programs for those aspiring to the elite ranks.

But what if we set aside those fantasies for a while and just chilled?

small, simple and slow

Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui continues:

What if I embrace my limitations and stop railing against them? Make peace with who I am and what I need and honor your right to do the same. Accept that all I want is a small, slow, simple life.

That’s’ all I want – a small, slow, simple life.

unfolding into wholeness

Carl Jung envisioned a major shift in understanding the spiritual path –rather than ascending a steep mountain path seeking perfection, instead we “unfold into wholeness.”

The wholeness that is who we are right here and now.

We are not so much attempting to vaporize our bad karma or destroy our demons, as it is really hard to do a decent job of this; our well-meaning attempts can easily leave us with more problems.

the life we have been given

Rather, perhaps we need to chill a little, and settle into the “small, slow simple life” we have already been given?

And embrace it is in this moment — messy, incomplete, yet alive, fresh, and unfolding — without trying to improve or tweak anything.


Trying to tweak things just brings more frustration. And really, the present moment is un-tweak-able.

This is a quiet and deep joy that, in a way, has always been there, covered over by strata of reactivity and compulsiveness which subtly rule our lives, in one form or another.

a simple path

The path is simple. Here are the instructions (from Thich Nhat Hahn) … ready?

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”

Can we practice like this?

read another?
join the Aloha Sangha familywe all need a little support sometimes

Enter your best email below and we'll send you our weekly support newsletter to help keep you moving forward on this journey of a lifetime. You can easily unsubscribe anytime.

About Tom Davidson-Marx

Former Buddhist monk, now father of two and full time registered nurse, my passion is sharing what I have learned from a life-long love, study and practice of the early Buddhist teachings. Thanks for reading.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.