Mindful moments: stand, drink water

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(First published in 2015) In which a poem and song about the Christchurch earthquakes help me to take a mindful moment when I drink a glass of water.

One of my boot camp tasks is to increase the number of genuinely mindful moments—when I’m fully aware of what I am doing and feeling and thinking and sensing at at the time. Sitting and meditating is easy by comparison. Both are a pleasure—but it’s difficult to snatch that quick flash of mindfulness in a busy day.

Paradoxically, mindfulness comes easier when it’s a habit. My son Geoff, for example, aims to be mindful in two situations: every time he walks through a door and every time he takes someone’s blood pressure. One is a moment of transition, the other a moment of stillness.

At Capital Choir we are singing a powerful new song — music by Felicia Edgecombe, words by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman. Here’s the poem.

After the tremor

after the tremor the neighbour
after the terror the stranger
after the stranger the doctor
after the doctor the soldier

after the soldier the looter
after the looter the vulture
after the horror the ruins
after the ruins the kindness

after the kindness the sirens
after the sirens the silence
after the silence the weeping
after the weeping the comfort

after the toppling the creaking
after the shaking the shaking
after the shaking the questions
after the rage and courage

after profound desolation
after the nurse and the undertaker

we stand and we drink from a glass of water

— (c) Jeffrey Paparoa Holman

See that last line? The people of Christchurch know what a privilege this is. The poem forces us through a relentless sequence of events and feelings experienced by Christchurch people during the last few years. The horror began with a massive earthquake that shattered the city, but that was only the start of hell time.

We stand and we drink from a glass of water.

Stability. Water. We take them for granted, most of the time. For older people, stability and water are even more precious. Sometimes when I stand and drink from a glass of water, I try to think of nothing else. I look at the water—what an amazing modern blessing, clean clear water running out of a tap! And the glass—perfect, it works! I’m standing firm and straight and steady. The ground is firm. God I’m lucky!

These are mindful moments, refreshing, stabilising. A flash of awareness incites gratitude. And how much time do they take? None, because we have to drink water anyway—especially when we are older.

After the tremor: the song

Image from The Art of the Dresden Gallery (1907) by Julia de Wolf Gibbs

Photos of Christchurch before and after the February 2011 earthquake


13 thoughts on “Mindful moments: stand, drink water

  1. Robyn Haynes says:

    Rachel what a wonderful reminder! Such a simple thing as a clean glass of water – so easy to take for granted. Not to mention stability. When I was young it was something that I never thought about. Now I do what I can to maintain it. Thanks!

    1. Everything is a cause for gratitude after those endless earthquakes. As for water, we are all starting to appreciate this, finally!

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        I can’t imagine how terrifying the earthquakes must be. You’re right, Rachel. When that kind of devastation occurs it pulls us up and demands our attention, if not our gratitude. Decades ago, I recall environmentalists warning there would be water wars. I saw what devastation is being caused by not heeding such warnings in California. We have been so wasteful in the past. An indulgence we can no longer afford now.

      2. Even now in NZ we squandering pure water and polluting our rivers…

      3. Robyn Haynes says:

        Australia has a long way to go as well but compared to California (not even half flush toilets!) we’re making progress.

  2. bone&silver says:

    I love this profoundly simple post, and it reminds me I’m thirsty too. I am also very grateful for the hot water coming out of my shower on a cold winter’s morning… We are so privileged here in the West. Thank you for your focus Rachel

    1. Indeed, those hot showers are a modern democratic luxury and I love them.

  3. lifecameos says:

    What a profound statement. A powerful reminder to us all to seek moments of mindfulness.

    1. For me it’s that moment right now…

  4. joared says:

    Certainly food for thought as we’ve dealt with drought in recent years — also, here in Southern California USA, we’re cautioned “the Big One” is overdue (earthquake) — there will be shaking …… water will be precious.

    1. Let us appreciate what we have while we have it. And work to save it too…

  5. Aunt Beulah says:

    What a thought-provoking post this is. I’m struck by the resolve of you and your son to pick certain actions and work at being fully present during them. I shall do the same; and I might copy you and do it when I drink a glass of water. I like that notion, and I drink water regularly throughout the day.

    1. That’s perfect! I think you’ll enjoy this. Don’t imagine I always remember but it helps hugely to attach mindfulness to one frequently repeated act. It’s a tiny habit.

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