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Chew the Cupcake

Somehow I started writing about my experience trying meditation.  You can read about my adventures in Vipassana here if you missed them. 

SPOILER ALERT:  I did not get enlightened.

I made earnest but ultimately vain attempts over the rest of the retreat to get back to that meditative high I attained for approximately 15 seconds on Day 5.  Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.  Despite the brevity of my spiritual achievement I left the retreat completely inspired and determined to sit every day at home, to really make a practice of this meditation.  I was a new woman.

I think that lasted for three days.  I guess I was the same old woman after all. 

I will say this though: over the course of that ten days I did internalize something about the philosophy underpinning the technique, if not the practice itself.  I return again and again to the idea that my cravings and aversions are value-neutral, that it is my reactions to them that send me to the place Buddhists call suffering.  On bad days, I still find myself chasing the sugar- or wine- or resentment- or pride-dragon down the path of diminishing returns.  On good days, I can choose to notice but not to react. 


For Ezra's second birthday we gathered with friends and family at a playground near our house.  I bought mini-cupcakes from a friend who is a talented baker and we were all happy when the time came to light the candles and dig in.  Ez was just barely two, meaning my zealous resolve to maintain the firewall between him and sugar had not yet eroded, so chocolate cupcakes were a special treat.

He happily snarfed down one and asked for another.  Being the magnanimous mother of the birthday boy how could I refuse?  He popped the entire mini-cupcake into his mouth and made the only sign he had picked up at school: more. 

More?  You haven't even chewed the one that's in your mouth!  Two cupcakes is enough!  The response was predictable.

There I was, trying calm my two-year-old: Just chew the cupcake that is in your mouth, sweetheart.  You don't have to crave the cupcake.  You have the cupcake already.  Just be in this moment.  And there I was, thinking This is SO Buddhist right now. 

I understand that actual Buddhists might think I have this thing all wrong.  Maybe I do.  I make no claim to being an expert in that religion or philosophy.  But this has become one of my personal mantras in the year or so since then.  Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth.  Just be in this moment.  I forgot about it lately, but when it started to come back to me yesterday I thought, time to write this down.

So here we go, deep breath.

Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth.  Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth.  Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth.

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Reader Comments (14)

I like this. Something for me to keep in my mind! Chew the cupcake that is in your mouth!

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim Nyhus

Ezra looks like the 99% in that last picture.

check this out:

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercoalex

LOVE this. I have a new mantra now for when I slip behind or ahead of the moment. Brilliant.

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLarisa Spillman

Just chew the cupcake that is in your mouth...genius. xoxo

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

I believe you officially become an adult when a) you forgive your parents for the way they raised you, and b) you're able to live in the moment.

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommentertomK

But what if I have lima beans in my mouth? (not that I'd ever put them there since I loathe them)

Just kidding. This is another approach to living in the moment, and I like the way you see it. Thanks for sharing your journey Corrina.

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlifeineden {amy}

Oh Creen, the perfect reminder! Even for someone who recently celebrated their 25th year of meditating. And as much as I do love it and truly see the benefits of it, I often turn away from it...

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternell

...usually when I need it most.

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternell

I remember you telling this story at camp and I've been reminding myself about "chewing the cupcake" ever since! Such great advice.

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

I love this! :)

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelly

Oh, I simply adore this life philosophy. Condensed into an easy-to-remember, bite-sized, morsel. And one can also imagine that the cupcake is chocolate.

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

This came just in time. I've been struggling with dangling somewhere between regret about yesterday and worry about tomorrow. Simple to remember and will help me live in the moment. Thanks!

December 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJane

What a perfect turn Corinna--masterful set of posts.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher

while this is excellent advice, i am most tickled by the fact that you took the time to take a (fabulous) shot of him upset with a mouth full of cupcake. could you just hear this post writing itself in your head as you clicked away? tee hee.

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermae

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