The secret restaurant
“Want to go to a secret restaurant this weekend?” asked my friend Leokane when I arrived in Hana. My eyes lit up immediately. Yes! and when I noticed that the date was for 11/11/11 I was all the more thrilled. I had wanted to ritualize this day somehow, to do something special on such an auspicious night, but wasn’t sure how. This was the perfect thing.
Seems there are variations on this theme in every city, pop-up restaurants and other supper clubs that appear monthly and serve delicious food. Usually, you find your way onto their email list, promise to keep it on the down low and then make your reservation when they announce the next event. Some of my all-time favorite dates with Matt have been to these dinners. I love that the social barriers break down, that you are all in on the magic of something, that it’s like being at the most awesome wedding… like a true celebration.
I was delighted that this idea had made its way to Hana! and was held in the living room of a beautiful, historic home. “The collection of people that attend is always ecelctic and unexpected…” my friend assured me. Of course he had me at secret restaurant.
We walked into the living room where the dinner was held and in true Hana fashion, first removed our shoes. Then we walked around to every table as each guest got up and introduced themselves. It was so lovely! Can you imagine if every time you walked into a restaurant everyone said hello to you? We sat their for hours, drinking wine and eating course after course of tuna sashimi, avocado salad, mono, and on and on…
At about 10:30pm one of the guests at another table tinked his wine glass with a spoon and announced that we were approaching [11:11:11] on 11/11/11… After more than our share of wine, we decided that this was the moment for our ritual! We began by going around our own four-top and thinking about one person at a time. We silently sent them a blessing, the thing we thought they needed most for the year ahead. When we were finished, we rotated to bless the next person at the table.
Maybe it’s because we were a little tipsy, maybe because the night felt so magical, but we were so energized by this that we decided to do the same for every person in the room. One by one, even for the kitchen people we couldn’t see, we let a word come up for them– something we felt they needed to be blessed with, an antidote to whatever challenged them or was hard in their life.
What was extraordinary is that we’d do this silently and then share our words out loud with each other. The words we chose were different, but always had the same flavor. It’s as if each person’s energy was so powerful, all we really needed to do was tune in. We did this for all 15 people in the room.
There is a lesson in the current Dream Lab class on Stealth Blessings. I first came across this idea when I was traveling in Thailand chatting with a Buddhist monk. He told me, “Meditation is about training the mind to be skilled in thought. When you are on the bus staring at the back of someone’s head, you can use that time to worry about money or all of the things you need to do, or you can use that time to bless the people around you. This is skilled thought. Thought that serves others.”
I was so inspired by this that I began to practice it at odd moments when I found myself in the line at the grocery store or the bank, those idle moments when you catch yourself going unconscious, getting impatient, and stressing out about everything and nothing. I noticed that this practice of blessing others had a powerful effect– it got me out of my head long enough to get present again and it cultivated a fullness in me, a compassion for others and also a connection to how much I actually have to give. Like I say in Dream Lab, “You don’t feel compassionate, so you bless. You bless, so that you are filled with compassion.”
As Thanksgiving approaches and I consider what it means to me to be grateful, I keep coming back to this simple idea— that the more we are in a space of giving the more we can touch into the fullness of our hearts. This is where a true gratitude emerges, not one that is manufactured, or one that we try to muster up for the gratitude list.
For me, it can begin with one simple thought that serves another.