What Is In Your Bowl?

Meditations in Motion

It was fully dark when we arrived at the park. Hubs and I stripped off our sweatshirts, put on our fleece beanies and gloves and set out into the thin illumination of streetlights that line the macadam road circling a small lake. Our footsteps and the sound of distant traffic were the only sounds we heard.

One evening a week we run with our local running club. In the summertime, we typically run on lightly-traveled country roads or rail trails and have a post-run gathering at a member’s house, but in the winter we circle the park for safety reasons, then visit a local eatery for dinner and conversation. And maybe a beverage.

I was feeling unsettled by a stressful phone call I had earlier in the day and was looking forward to my form of therapy – working it out on the roads. Bill and I began our run half an hour before the official starting time of the club run at my request. I needed a full hour of therapy.

We ran the first 1.7 mile-loop in silence, my mind furiously churning. As we began the second loop, I started ranting to my poor hubby. He is used to this and allowed me to vent. What came out of my mouth was anger, frustration, feelings of betrayal.

Like many women (yes, it’s a stereotype), I often process my thoughts verbally. After the first rancorous layer of feelings came out, my next words were ones of sadness, regret, and remorse.

As we began our fourth and final loop, my tone finally changed to one of forgiveness, grace, vulnerability, and second chances.

Meditations in Motion

In the days when my children were young, I worked at night as a waitress. I would be home with the boys during the day, then, a few times a week, my husband and I would pass the children off in the late afternoons, he would tackle baths and bedtimes, and I would go to work.

One of the most difficult items to carry to the table was a full bowl of soup. I usually wound up sloshing some of the soup over the rim of the bowl as I made my wobbly way from kitchen to table.

If the soup contained potatoes, carrots, leeks, and creamy broth, those ingredients were what spilled out; if crabmeat, mixed vegetables, and tomato broth were in the bowl, they were the things that wound up on my tray.

That was the point: I couldn’t spill anything out of the bowl that wasn’t in there to begin with.

Meditations in Motion

A begging bowl is an object carried by most Buddhist monks. It is an empty bowl used to receive food or alms. The monk never knows what will wind up in his begging bowl on any given day. The point is to be grateful for whatever blessings come our way, whether it is a sumptuous curry or merely thin rice milk. Or soup.

In our lives, we get to fill up our own begging bowl.

We can fill it with a stew of acerbity, harshness, resentment, indignation, self-righteousness, despair, and venom. We can also fill it with poise, dignity, honor, tolerance, understanding, mercy, gratitude, contentment, joy, and love.

The ingredients we put into our bowl are what will slosh out when we get rattled. It’s that simple. We can’t spill anything out of our bowl that is not in there to begin with.

We need to think about the ingredients we add to our bowls because life happens. We will get jostled, our soup will spill out. We can have a veneer of suave tranquility, showing our polished, placid, I-can-handle-anything face to the world, but when life bumps our elbow, the true contents of our bowl will overflow.

Apparently, I did have sweet love, tolerance, mercy, and benevolence deep down in my bowl, but it was covered by a layer of bitter resentment, outrage, and sorrow.

I must pay more attention to the ingredients I place in my bowl. I need to skim off that acrid top layer, discard it, and fill my life and my bowl with more of the dense, nutritious, and satisfying bottom layer.

Maybe I will work harder at letting light and love into my heart. Maybe I can focus more on cultivating humility, thankfulness, holy courage. Maybe next week I will suggest to Bill that we do five loops around the park.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23

 

I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown, Loopy Laura for Global Blogging, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Purposeful Faith for RaRa link up, Coach Debbie Runs  for the Coaches’ Corner, InstaEncouragements, Soaring With Him for Recharge Wednesday, Natalie the Explorer for Wellness Wednesday, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday, Sarah E Frazer Grace for Today, and Esme Salon for Senior Salon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

91 comments

  1. Laurie,
    This is a marvelous, insightful post. It makes me think that what we practice most is what we become. Yeah you, for seeing that you have a choice in your response and choosing a healthy way to move forward. I have found running to help me process emotions. I usually run alone. How fortunate to have a running partner who will listen as you work through your thoughts. I think you will inspire many others with what you have shared.
    Be well,
    Ali

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this post, friend. As we release the junk that so easily accumulates, we find yet again that the sweet fruit of the Spirit remains, just waiting to burst forth is all its glory!

    Ah, to be quick to rid ourselves of all that hinders our inner beauty.

    Thank you for this needed nudge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this post. I’ve been so negative about my job lately and that spills over into my interactions with co-workers. (Not patients, thank goodness). I think I’m just burned out. But I can’t leave, so I need to figure out how to make it work. The begging bowl is a great concept and I’m going to use it to turn my mindset around!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry to hear that you’re burned out, Wendy. I think I was reaching burn-out stage when I retired. Maybe you will get a break over the holidays? I guess people get sick all throughout the year.

      Like

  4. Powerful post, and so insightful! I have been dealing with a rather difficult – shall we say snarky? – person for several months. Not a fun situation, but I made the choice to step back, and treat the situation with kindness and not succumb to retaliation. It has NOT been easy, but it was the right thing to do. Forgiveness is a gift we not only give to those who have wronged us, but in doing so it’s a gift for us as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kim. I think you made the right decision but I’m sure it was difficult to do. My first inclination is to shoot out a snarky reply, but then there would be 2 people acting badly. That is a great way to put it – forgiveness is a wonderful gift to ourselves!

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  5. That’s a nice analogy. The contents of my bowl have changed so much over the past five years, I barely recognize myself. I almost never lash out anymore (even with my kids) and I think it leaves me far more calm. But could I be thankful for thin rice milk? I doubt it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point, Jeff. The contents of our bowl do change over the course of our lives. My bowl looked different when I had young children at home (or teenagers, like you!)

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  6. Love this soup bowl wisdom, and I’m looking around me at the effect the contents can have on a bowl over the long haul. We do ourselves no favors when we pile heaps of bubbling resentment or rancorous regret into the bowl. It spills out on others,and it also wrecks the receptacle.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like your analogy, Laurie. A few years back I took an intensive marketing course that included a brief communication workshop. The teacher said said something (obvious that you only think about after someone point it out) that some things that anger us we process in stages: first comes anger, second denial, third doubt, then acceptance.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very deep. Yes, we do have to be mindful of how we fill that bowl, but we are also human and the dark, ugly and unpleasant can always seep in. As long as we are able to get a handle on those emotions and not let them taint our bowl forever, it’s ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this analogy. It’s so easy to let the negativity rise to the top of our bowls.

    My problem with not being able to run is how to release all the tension of the day. Running was my outlet.

    Now. My poor hubby.

    I’ll try to remember your bowl.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was a beautiful post Laurie – it is not easy to have life happen on an even keel, just like walking while carrying a bowl of soup. It is good to aim a little lower with the contents of the bowl to avoid spillage, but remain higher with keeping your emotions restrained. Of course that is easier said than done for every single one of us; one can never take back what is said in a moment of anger. Five loops sounds perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. I also found that for carrying a full bowl (and in life) it’s easier if you don’t watch it too intently, but just walk normally and keep your eyes focused on what’s ahead.

      I am not sure we will get any loops tonight. The forecast is for rain changing to snow. Ugh!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie – I am still here this morning for that same reason – the temps dropped about 15 degrees since I went to bed and rain turned to sleety pellets. I will go out and run the car and that’s it – I won’t take a chance walking, just like you won’t run … I’ll still make my goal if I have to tally my house steps which I have been doing, especially in the morning before I leave and leave the pedometer on when I get home for a while before I get ready for work. Ugh indeed and now Winter starts – at least we don’t have what Shelley has. I’d give up then!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are right – I don’t want to risk a fall and not being able to run (or walk) at all. Ice is the one condition I will not run in. If think if it’s a cold rain tonight, I will go to the rec center for a little bit and run on the treadmill, just to burn off a little energy. I have to check Shelley’s blog. I haven’t read it in a few days. Thanks for the reminder!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what I worry about too Laurie. Now when I went out this morning, I didn’t know the sleet had stopped, but I only pulled on a pair of snow boots to run out and start the car, as it is going down to the teens tonight and all day tomorrow. There were no slick spots, so I walked around the neighborhood, but the boots are not good support, so I didn’t go far. I worked with a young woman who ran all the time – she was running in March and hit a patch of ice and fell and shattered her ankle. She had many pins put in. I always think of Kim when walking on ice. She was off work for a long time, then on crutches and many many weeks using a walking cast. Then it was physical therapy to get healed up 100%. I’ve never liked walking on ice as it was, but seeing what Kim went through makes me even more wary of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bill and I wound up running last night. It was pouring as we drove to the park, and I thought we would have to turn right around and drive home, but just as we got there, the rain stopped. We ran for an hour and just as we finished, the rain began again. Perfect timing! One of the running bloggers I follow just broke her leg in 2 places from a little trip on the stairs in her house! She just landed wrong. She had surgery to put in a plate, rod, and pins.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well at least you got your run in Laurie – it’s all in the timing sometimes! I did four miles today so will be able to finish up tomorrow if there are no weather issues. It was very cold at the Park and a couple who walk there every morning were the only other ones this morning. The “real feel” was only 2 degrees and very blustery.

        That’s a shame to take a trip and fall on the stairs, so likely a while before she is in shape to run again unfortunately. Another former co-worker of mine returned to work this past Monday after being off three months for a broken ankle. I asked if she remembered Kim’s break but she did not. When Kim (whom I mentioned yesterday) shattered her ankle, it was on the Ides of March. The following year on the Ides of March, Kim was walking to her car in the parking garage next to our building in downtown Detroit and a guy popped out of nowhere and grabbed her and told her he wanted her vehicle. She was very petite and he overpowered her and showed her a gun. Trembling, she handed him the car keys and he got into the driver’s seat and she was up front too. When they got to the gates where you had to slide your parking card through a machine for the gates to open, she took the card from the visor and told him how to slide it through – she gave him wrong instructions and he was trying to use the card and she opened the car and jumped out. He crashed the gates to get out of the garage. He had all her keys for her apartment, the office and she often went to a satellite office and so he had those keys too. They had a locksmith come immediately to both offices and change the keys and we all got new keys the next day. She had a Splash truck at that time and he ditched it a few miles from downtown – they never caught the guy. She had a police officer escort her home since he took the keys from the vehicle. She vowed she would never leave the house on the Ides of March again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How exciting! You are finishing up your goal 2 weeks early!!! We have had some cold temperatures, but nothing like you are describing. We are supposed to run with a friend tomorrow morning, so we will see how cold it is then. Your poor friend Kim!!! What a harrowing experience. If I were her I would not leave the house on the Ides of March either!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I am happy about it because who knows what’s down the pipeline with this weather. The cold wasn’t fun but it was dry, though I decided to drive to give the car a little run in the cold and snow was swirling around in the streets. Too early for this brutal cold which is January or February temps. Yes, I forgot to mention about Kim last night – sweet young woman, not long out of law school, when she had the running incident. I’d stay home … I rethink Friday the 13th sometimes! Hope you get your run in – are you close to any goal you’ve set for yourself? I know you said you’ve had one in the past.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, man. I hope that cold doesn’t come our way. I remember 2 years ago it was super cold at Christmas time. When I ran a race on the first Saturday after New Years it was zero degrees (F) at the start of the race. I did not run today but we hope to get a long run in tomorrow. It’s supposed to be fairly warm (high of 50) but rainy in the morning. We might sleep in, then run. I didn’t set a mileage goal in 2019. Maybe I should think of one in 2020.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Love this image of our bowls and what is swirling around in there. Yup. Reminded me of yesterday when stress was bringing up some of the layers. A walk and talking helped me gain clarity and a better focus. That, and a letting go of what I can not control and letting God carry that.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Interesting analogy, Laurie. I wasn’t familiar with begging bowls, but what powerful imagery. When we start with empty, we clearly get to decide what goes in and what gets spilled out. I hope to consider this too: “Maybe I will work harder at letting light and love into my heart. Maybe I can focus more on cultivating humility, thankfulness, holy courage.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the point you bring up, Karen – we need to start with empty. Too many times my bowl is filled up with “self”. I need to remember to begin with empty so I can fill it with light and Spirit!

      Like

  13. Thank you, Laurie. Running is such a GREAT therapy, isn’t it!?! And it’s a lot cheaper than other forms of therapy! Your hubs is very kind to let you vent when you need to. I love the “bowl” analogy. I like being able to see the spiritual in the every day.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements! 🙂 MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You can really see to the core of a person when they are under stress. The begging bowl is a great analogy because that’s what spills out when we’re tired, angry, or upset. We are all a mix of good and made emotions and feeling, but some people seem to have more of one than the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you, Laurie, for joining me on Wellness Wednesday with an insightful post and a good reminder. When I get seriously frustrated, running or walking is my go-to therapy, too. It works every time.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. How interesting. I like the story of the soup. I too talk everything out..if I can to my ever patient spouse. I also do a lot of journalling and its a locked app on my phone so it’s good to get it out. I like looking back too as I can see progress I have made in relationships and even that with myself. Thanks for linking up for the almost last Life This Week in 2019…not even the penultimate though…Here’s next week’s optional prompt 50/51 Share Your Snaps #10 16/12/19 Hope to see you there. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is my second try at commenting, hopefully only one will show up! 🙂 I haven’t blogged, or visited blogs, in a while and trying to get back in the groove. Laurie, I loved your post, and it caused me to pause, and examine my own bowl, to see what’s there. Thank you!! I really enjoyed my first visit and am sure I’ll be reading further.

    Liked by 1 person

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