Spirituality in Trips to the Grocery Store
One of the many ways that my Trinity Energy Progression practice has helped me change is how I experience my trips to the grocery store. I use to view these trips as another errand that I didn’t particularly enjoy. First, there would be the crowded parking lot, the initial glimpse of the extra time (I didn’t have) that this errand would take.The next indication was the dearth of carts, with only wobbly-wheeled ones left for navigating the crowded aisles of the store. But the produce was so colorful that I would feel a renewed sense of joy, only to find the avocados were as hard as rock and the store was out of organic spinach as well as my favorite coconut milk, while having a bountiful assortment of “healthy sweets” (chocolate-covered everything) and lots of really salty “healthy snacks” as an alternative for those with a sugar “addiction” like me. By the time I maneuvered around the store and made my way to the check-out line, I felt a combination of guilt, frustration, pride, and anticipation for what I had chosen to buy (or not buy) only to realize that I had left my “save the Earth” shopping bags in the car when I had finally found a parking place. Guilt completely overtook me as I knew I would not go back to my car to get them.
As I would approach the check-out lines, I would not be “feeling the love” for myself or for much of anything else while I was trying to quickly calculate which line would have the least wait time based on the number of people in line and the number of items in their carts, as well both the customers’ and cashiers’ commitment to take the check-out process “seriously.” And to determine who would do everything as quickly as humanly possible while I judged their success or lack thereof, especially when I more often than not chose the wrong/slowest line. Waiting in line was the most challenging part of the trip for me.
I was an undergraduate English major in college, so when I think about waiting, I often think about Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot.” It is a play about two men waiting to meet Godot, who never comes. It always makes me think about how much time we can spend waiting for the future, or waiting for things that never happen. On another level, the play is about how time is part of our humanness, and how to make time matter while recognizing its fleeting nature. It is also about the paradox of time and how we can change our perception of the passing of time – how time “flies”and feels “time-less” when we are enjoying ourselves, and seems to “stop in its tracks” when we aren’t. Time “stopped in its tracks” for me at the grocery store.
In one of Eckart Tolle’s YouTube videos “Waiting with Presence,” he talks about how the old state of consciousness is waiting for the next thing whereas the new state of consciousness is not really waiting, just being where you are and enjoying that. As I have come to understand in my Trinity practice, everything in the moment is just the way it is – perfect! I now see this stopping of time as often the result of the past and future “crowding out” the Now, whereas time “flying” and feeling “time-less” is the expansiveness of being in the NOW, fully being where you are in the moment.
The ongoing journey with my practice has changed my grocery shopping trips (among other things) into a journey in itself, as I gave up waiting as a state of mind. I now see waiting as an opportunity to be present, and think of waiting as a gift – the gift of time to be present and free of judgment. I also see waiting as a time to connect, not just within me as part of my own spiritual practice. In an interview with Ram Dass by Eliot Jay Rosen, he asked Ram Dass about doing your spiritual practice while waiting in line at the bank. Ram Dass replied:
“Exactly. But you’re not doing a spiritual practice that involves going away from waiting in line at the bank. What I used to do is wait in line and I’d do mantra or breathing. I’d go into my vipassana meditation. But now I’m interested in whether waiting in line at the bank can itself be the thing. I notice my impatience, notice the feeling in my feet as I am standing there, notice the different levels of reality of the people I’m looking at. Am I seeing a bank teller or am I seeing the Divine Mother as a bank teller? I allow myself to play with the moment more, still dealing with the stuff of the moment rather than going away.”
Going to the grocery store is no longer just a trip for me where I have to wait in line. I especially like Eckart Tolle’s suggested response to someone who apologizes about having kept them waiting: “That’s all right, I wasn’t waiting. I was just standing there enjoying myself – in joy in myself.” This is now my grocery store journey where I embrace the waiting without judgment, and experience love and gratitude for being connected in the moment, for this moment. I play with the moment. I rarely forget my “save the Earth” shopping bags, but when I do, I joyfully go back to my car for them!
Trinity Energy Progression Facilitator/Practitioner