This morning, a strange thing happened. While I was going through an otherwise excellent article by friend Pudugram Vaidyanathan on body, mind and soul; some of his words, which he remarked no doubt jocularly, jumped off the page at me and immediately I was overcome with a swarm of emotions. I am quoting those words. “I don’t know anyone whose heart dances with joy at the thought of brushing his teeth.” The fact is mine does. Every night, just before going to sleep, my heart really dances with joy at the thought of brushing my teeth. In fact, it waits for the experience in great anticipation since the early evening. But just because my heart craves for it I don’t hurry, knowing very well that everything happens in its own time and only then it has a beauty of its own. You can advance an experience like this by your hurry for it, but you rob the experience of all its joy, beauty and purity. I give myself this excellent reward of brushing my teeth for having done a good deed by waiting patiently for it or having otherwise finished a good day’s job without expecting any reward for it. So it came as a surprise to me to know that nobody else loves the job of brushing his teeth. Lest I may be accused of monopolizing or patenting on this beautiful, divinely blissful art of brushing teeth, let me narrate in some detail what this art means to me. It is a complete experience in which all my senses participate as instruments in an orchestra and partake of the feast of joy so produced. It is just not a blow job, hurriedly done, but when I connect the brush with paste to my mouth it is like consciously connecting your body with your mind with the breathing as the bridge in between. It is a kind of meditation too. But I have already jumped a step in the excitement, yes I admit I am very prone to excitement when called to describe the joy of this art of brushing teeth, so let me begin from the beginning.

First you take your brush out and have a feel of your running fingers on its bristles and sometimes as a variation you hold the brush under tap to wet it first and then run your thumb over the bristles and see how it feels when water in small particles jump off the brush and splash you in the face. Then having satisfied yourself that your brush is in good condition, you take up the paste from its stand and squeeze it gently on the brush until you get the desired amount on your brush. The sight of the oozing out and squeezed out paste; does it remind you of anything? It always reminds me of one story. It happened that one day, like every other day, a father was exhorting his son to work hard as he emphasized that nothing was impossible if one worked hard. The boy was feeling utterly worthless as he was not a hard working type. That day the boy couldn’t take any more. He rose up and went to the bath room and brought out the tube of tooth paste and squeezed it hard on his father’s palm. As a lump of toothpaste came out, he put the tube on his father’s other hand and said, “You always say nothing is impossible for hard work. Now put that paste back into the tube.”

Now you mindfully return the tube of paste to its stand and slowly and gently connect the brush to your mouth in general and teeth in particular. Now the real brushing starts and what a beautifully satisfying experience it is! As you brush your teeth the first thing that hits you is the sweet aroma of the paste. I always give my nose a treat by choosing a paste with good aroma and while brushing continues I dwell on the scent and it is always relaxing to be slipped off one’s feet into the world of sweet memories accompanying the aroma, at least for a minute. I also choose a paste which tastes well as taste buds in the tongue deserve their dues for having given a good account of themselves during the day. As I live in a warm climate, I always make it a point to stand or sit beneath a fan while brushing so that the greater part of my body doesn’t feel let down as I enjoy this sweetest of all experiences. As the cool breeze play with my hair and caress my face and massage my whole body all my senses tingle with pleasure. My eyes prefer to remain shut at this time to help take in all these sensations without any distractions. Now as you brush in circular, horizontal, perpendicular and every kind of strokes and motions your teeth get the feeling that they are loved and pampered. Be one with their joy because they can feel joy only through you. If you are not there, absent to their subtle needs, how can they feel pampered. So be present there where your brush goes. Now feel the rising lather inside your mouth and how they press against the flesh of your inner cheeks. Listen to the sound of bristles brushing against your teeth and the bones supporting them. Once in a while gently brush over your tongue, gums and palate and feel the sensation of it. Your tongue loves cleaning too, let it be pampered for a while. At the end of brushing, clean it with a tongue-cleaner and be also present there. Your presence is needed all the time during brushing, so be there to say “present sir” always, never failing.

Now let me tell you some whys and wherefores of it. Though we live in the body, most of the time we don’t feel it. Mind and body live as if they are independent of each other. In this state of mind it gets disconnected from the wisdom of the self normally felt through the body. The self is highly intuitive and is the storehouse of all wisdom. Mind is mostly repetitive memory and wishful egoistic thoughts. It has a propensity to wander everywhere. It is never there where it should be, in the body. It is never present in the here and now. In this unregenerate, fallen state it is a danger to itself and the body. But it is the only instrument of the self along with the body to get things done. How to yoke this wandering mind to the body so that the self can accomplish whatever it wishes to accomplish? One of the ways is to watch the breathing. Thoughts are controlled as breathing becomes conscious, regular or rhythmic. Another way is to feel the sensations in your body. Sensations are reflections of thoughts in the body. Watching and feeling sensations in the body is a way of mooring mind to the present, the here and now. It is also a way of entering into the timeless through the here and now. In short, brushing your teeth mindfully and consciously can keep your mind anchored to the here and now and thus can free you from the torture of a wandering mind. Mind alone can create a whole world of problems for you. An agitated mind only creates fears and miseries. Buddha said, ” All happiness follows a man like night follows day whose mind is at rest.” A mind at rest is also called a virtuous mind or pure mind. Some also call it as no mind. In this state only, creative ideas come as flashes of intuitions. All great scientists, artists, poets and saints do their best work under the spell of this creative, non-repetitive and intuitive state of mind or no mind. Brushing your teeth mindfully is a way of connecting to that state. In fact, any work done meditatively, mindfully can be your point of entry into here and now and through that into eternity or timelessness. Now is not a part of time, it is timelessness felt in the body.

Now let me come back to our story of brushing teeth. You have cleaned your teeth, gum and tongue. Now rinse your mouth as well as your brush and tongue- cleaner. Just because you are nearing the finishing line of your job should not make you complacent or let your guards down. Do not hurry. Unconsciousness and mindlessness can seep into you finding chinks in your armor. Hold your fort. Be present where you are. Pay attention to the sound of running water from your tap. Don’t be heedless of the touch of water on your hand, face and inside of the mouth. While rinsing your mouth, remember that nothing works like the old fashioned gurgling. Take mouthfuls of water and watch yourself in the mirror and start gurgling loudly as if your life depends on gurgling. Don’t be shy. Make all sorts of faces at the mirror while you are furiously gurgling. I would advise you not to just gurgle, be the gurgling itself. If at that moment anybody happens to see you he may think that you have gone mad. But never mind him or her. At least that much price you should be ready to pay for your being connected to this fountain of delight that is brushing of your teeth.

Now having yourself satisfied that no traces of food particles can be found lodged between your teeth, you put back your instruments safely in their stand and hold a clean cloth to dry your face. Dry your face slowly and deliberately. Don’t forget to register the scent of the clean cloth and the feeling of it rubbing your face. Now you can rest in peace for having done a beautiful job beautifully accomplished. Just a few parting words remained. The whole operation should be finished within ten minutes and the actual or core brushing of teeth part should not exceed five minutes. Your teeth lose enamel if brushed harder or for longer time. But within that time there should not be any hurry. Always use a soft brush. Brush gently too. In this age of hurry and rushedness the art of brushing teeth has largely been given a go by. It has been thrown into the way side. All brush teeth as if it is a necessary evil or a job best done inattentively or as if something more important, more solid can be thought of during that seemingly wasted time. But I say “father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” They call it a quickie, a task best done as quickly as possible and forgotten as quickly. But I can say, I am ready to sacrifice any number of quickies for a regular, mindful, unhurried and intimate job well done and remembered for a long time that is till the next time. Yes, when you have really grown fond of the art, even the next time will seem a long time ahead.

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      Steven Steensels 

      The timelessness felt in the body, oh yes ! I fully join you with the happy treat self is giving to its body, for it takes a whole universe to have this body live my life. If the world is to be inhabited at all, here at last is a fit inhabi…See More
      August 13 at 7:25pm · Unlike ·  3 people

      Tom Clausen My feelings for toothbrushing have been wonderfully advanced, Paresh, and as much as I have usually enjoyed, even if too quickly, this art form, my approach will certainly be savored now days with your wonderful account in mind and heart. 🙂 thank you! 

      August 13 at 7:36pm · Unlike ·  3 people

      Ishvari Lockhart 

      Paresh…amazing because the same thing happened to me when reading it. Once a friend was using various techniques to reveal some of Gurjieff’s teachings and he used cleaning teeth as an example…how we are not present in the moment and hy…See More
      August 13 at 7:49pm · Unlike ·  3 people

      Kaila Kukla this is great and of couse can be applied to any of our chores mindfully performed..thx 

      August 13 at 9:05pm · Unlike ·  4 people

      Grace Mendoza 

      Hi Paresh!
      Thanks once again for sharing your love with me. I found your story interesting and it reminded me of what I here all around me …… it is about living the moment, no matter what you do! So I see you enjoying the moment as you…See More
      August 13 at 9:06pm · Unlike ·  3 people

      Julia Day Present Innocence 😉 ♥ 

      August 13 at 9:33pm · Unlike ·  4 people

      Pudugram Vaidyanathan Hi Paresh, I can see that I was wrong about the brushing stuffl.. Must use a different example next time. Everyday I am learning something new in this life. thanks. 

      August 13 at 9:34pm · Unlike ·  4 people

      Bob Grumbine Interesting example and may be the reason why the homosexually regimented criminal thugs in the dentifraud “profession” in the Loonie Tied Studs are so adamant about smashing teeth out of human faces, utterly destroying dentition, so as to prevent humans from properly chewing or enjoying food and to permanently prevent consumption of anything of any chewing requiring substance by the victims of their criminal attacks under “color of license”. 

      August 13 at 10:09pm · Like

      Adriana Hill Paresh, loved the light hearted nature of this! I laughed upon reading it, and am still smiling thinking of it… 

      August 14 at 1:27am · Unlike ·  5 people

      Tim Hartman 

      I feel like Adriana, especially with the facial expression line…I appreciate your humor Paresh. 🙂 You talked about the “mind at rest” and enjoying the moment so as not to ruin the very beauty and purity of things by rushing their happen…See More
      August 14 at 6:11am · Unlike ·  4 people

      Grace Ana Kenealy 

      ‎((Paresh)) I hurriedly rushed around the grocery store today to pick up several necessities, but savored the aisle which housed a diverse family of toothbrushes and pastes. Ended up choosing a NEW delicious peppermint flavored Burt’s Bees…See More
      August 14 at 6:26am · Unlike ·  2 people

      Carolyn Wind lol….thank you, my friend…for this beautiful description of being in the Moment~~ 

      August 14 at 8:24am · Unlike ·  3 people

      Orly Zirinsky thank you-sharing! 

      August 14 at 5:38pm · Unlike ·  1 person

      Linda Darling Langlois 

      This was such a joy to read. Thank you for including me, Paresh. And, yes, it can be enjoyed with everything. 

      I was just thinking this morning how easy it is for me to take a joyful experience like this and, if not vigilant, turn it into a j…See More

      August 14 at 10:02pm · Unlike ·  3 people

      Gina Lake Wonderful, wonderful story about being in the moment and how even such a small act can be pleasurable and divine! Thank you! Much love… 

      August 15 at 12:40am · Unlike ·  2 people

      Russie Wight-Waltman Paresh~~I love this because it resonates as I brush my teeth willingly and mindfully after every meal…and floss! When I do go to dentist they are always surprised to see I have almost no plaque so there are real benefits to this pleasurable teeth brushing : ) I have an electric tooth brush, btw. 

      August 15 at 4:18am · Unlike ·  1 person

      Robin Zak thank you Paresh, i enjoyed reading every word…every act done in mindfulness is worship, whether brushing our teeth, or scrubbing the pots… it is a blessing to be reminded of each action, and i am grateful ♥ 

      August 16 at 10:13am · Unlike ·  2 people

      Linda Darling Langlois When I brushed my teeth last night, I thought back to this essay and said to myself, “You will never brush your teeth in the same way again.” 🙂 

      August 16 at 10:15am · Unlike ·  2 people