Learn how to live more peacefully



Mist at Wilson-0662

Even in Kyoto-

Hearing the cuckoo’s cry-

I long for Kyoto.


Matsuo Bashō

Sometimes we have a sense of yearning which has little to do with what is happening in our lives. Often we yearn for something in particular – a beloved who has gone overseas for a while, a sense of calm which may elude us, our youth which is long gone. Yet at other times, we may be filled with a sense of yearning which seems to come from a mysterious dimension of life we cannot name. Perhaps life is good, things are going well, and yet…

We are often drawn to practices like mindfulness meditation in order to understand ourselves better. We want to discover what might lie underneath our anxieties, our neuroses, the behaviours we want to change. In our efforts to lead better lives, we can become quite solution-focused – ‘if I meditate every day for eight weeks, my brain will change for the better – as proven by fMRI scans’. Which is true enough, but we can miss out on experiencing moments which are perplexing, even challenging, yet which may greatly enrich our lives.

As the haiku by Basho above shows, life doesn’t always have to make perfect sense. Is it silly to yearn for Kyoto when we are already in Kyoto? Of course it is, it certainly won’t pay the bills, and the washing-up isn’t going to do itself, so we’d best get on with that. In our constant quest for achievement and improvement, can we allow ourselves sometimes to feel yearning when we hear the call of a bird?

Weekly practice idea:

This week, if you feel a sense of yearning, allow yourself to simply be present with it.

Anja Tanhane