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Mindful : October 2019
inner wisdom Life is a Beautiful Buffet Every day, life presents us with a set of ingredients. It’s up to us to turn them into something delicious. I love to cook. The kitchen was where, as a child, I first discovered that I could be a creator. As I explored and experimented with all kinds of dishes, I came to appreciate that it’s not just the ingredients, but how you work with them, that makes a meal wonderful. That’s why, in addition to cooking, I love watching cooking shows. One of my favorites is MasterChef, with its “Mystery Box Challenge.” The Mystery Box might hold durian or dogfish, ABOUT THE AUTHOR Elaine Smookler is a registered psychotherapist with a 20-year mindfulness practice. She is a senior faculty member at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto. Spam or spaghetti. All contestants start with the same raw materials, but they don’t know what they’ll get until the box is opened. Each chef draws upon the richness of their culture, their culinary training, and their unique take on life to dazzle the judges and win hearts and stomachs. Everyone has the potential to face glory or mishap. What a perfect metaphor for daily life. Each moment offers us a rich spread of ingredients and options. We might find some experiences more delectable or desirable than others, but it’s up to us to decide how we work with them, doing the best with what we have. 30 mindful October 2019 Today, for example, I noticed a feeling of joy as an early morning light came into the room. At the same time, I felt edgy about some tasks I needed to accomplish. So joy and edginess were two ingredients in my day. Noticing the ingredient of “enjoying the sunlight” allowed me to connect with simple happiness, while the ingredient of edginess was like making a dessert that featured jalapeños. I let myself feel how my body was responding to the prickly heat of edginess. As I investigated its characteristics, instead of seeing it as a problem I was able to enjoy watching my spicy edge keeping things perky. And because I brought awareness to this peppery friend, I → By Elaine Smookler PHOTOGRAPH BY BROOK LARK / UNSPLASH