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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

William Shatner, Thich Nhat Hanh and Mindfulness

A few months ago I was surfing my digital cable
for programs that looked interesting and I happened upon an interview segment hosted by William Shatner (of Star Trek and Boston Legal fame). It was called Shatner’s Raw Nerve. The name made me wonder what kind of commentary and conversation I would be hearing and I was delighted to discover the warmth and depth of caring which William Shatner exhibited as he talked with his guests. In point of fact, I was mesmerized by his manner and loving presence. I have rarely seen anyone listen in quite this way (with a few notable exceptions). It’s true that he gets so involved in the conversation that he often cannot contain himself and interjects his questions spontaneously but the amazing interest and obvious reverence he displays for the stories of his guests is over the top – wonderful. His guests always respond with deep appreciation. Since my first Raw Nerve discovery I have constantly searched for this program’s listings. I often record them if I will not be available to watch. I don’t want to miss a thing. What happens on this program is magical. I am so hooked on it.

As I reflect on this newfound and positive addiction of mine, it seems to me that William Shatner is a powerful and poignant example of a very beautiful quote I happen to love from 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.

A while back I was having lunch with a lovely and engaging friend. I was telling her a lengthy story about something I had recently experienced and I noticed how beautifully and thoughtfully she listened to me and the lovely energy of this gift. Her rapt attention made me so happy and I relaxed into that very special moment. I thanked her at the end of the story and told her how much that attention meant to me and she looked up, gently took my hand and said, “Marie, it is an HONOR to be asked to listen. When someone cares about sharing his or her thoughts and feelings with another, there is a powerful interest in wanting to know the response.”

And yet how easy it is to take this “honor” for granted, to treat it casually…and sometimes in an offhand manner. And when we do that we are missing this amazing opportunity to help our loved ones, our friends, even casual strangers we are conversing with to feel truly cared for and to “bloom like flowers”. What better investment of our time and energy is there than to choose to give the gift of our full presence through Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mindfulness! Watching the persons who come into our lives Blossom and Bloom makes us Master Gardeners and must, by its very nature, deeply touch our own souls.

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