“Your natural state is joy.” I had that quote on my fridge for years.
And every time I would pass it by, I would feel a moment of awareness, of seeing something which resonated within me as truth. Then, just as quickly as that moment came, it would pass as my glance shifted to the next object, the next thought.
And that’s how I lived my life – ricocheting from one moment to the next. I was never “still” enough to just be in the present moment.
It was a hollow way to live. An afterthought of a life, really.
Today, living is different for me. Things are not always amazing or wonderful, but I am here. I am experiencing the Now’s of my life. I am available for this present moment. It is a moment un-reigned, undictated: it does not have to “be” or unfold in a certain way. And when I truly disengage from the urge to reign or dictate my present moment, when I let go of the selfish need to impose my own expectations upon that moment, that is when I can actually experience that moment and all that it brings.
Do you see that when you try to manage your experience by resisting how things inherently are then you never truly experience anything? Resistance naturally implies thinking – it is impossible to resist anything without simultaneous thinking and judgement . The actual resistance is based on the thoughts that something is “bad” or “undesirable.” The moment your mind starts narrating an event and you give precedence to that dialoge, the real-life experience of that moment is lost. And the irony of all of this spent energy, is that your resistance CHANGES NOTHING. Nothing that you are thinking has an effect whatsoever on what is occurring. We engage in this pulling back, backing away, squeezing shut our eyes, etc. in an effort to change what is happening, but this resistance doesn’t change what is happening, it only heightens our own internal aversion.
When we shut down from present moment awareness, we miss out on our entire existence. It takes a mammoth amount of emotional energy to resist, repress, distract, and continuously identify with your mind. It takes absolutely NO energy to release yourself into the awareness of the now and to open yourself to what is directly before you. Indeed, you actually feel energized, rested, and replenished when you embrace the present moment. When the frantic mind is quieted (even for only brief moments, for example, when you are washing the dishes, sitting at a red light, spending time with a loved pet) and you are no longer engaged in dualistic thinking (separated from the present moment and others/me and them/etc.), than you actually draw in strength, energy, and peace. You are better able to harness your own natural center and, therefore, are more innately productive and fulfilled. When we can accept the present moment for what it is and embrace the truth that there is nothing lacking from it, then we can stop trying to manufacture a different moment now and that will follow. When the manufacturing of artificial moments begins to slow, then your real life begins to appear.
It is really about capturing your attention and focus for the moment. Because experiencing the present moment with your attention on that particular moment is what brings forth the essence of being in that moment.
It’s like a light. Imagine, a magnificent lighthouse with its powerful beam of light illuminating its surroundings. You also have the magnificent ability to focus your beam of attention, your light, if you will. So, you have to ask yourself what is yours shining on?
Take this moment and consider this: Where is your attention?
Ask yourself this question, for there is no other question more important than it.
Don’t lose the value of the moment in its fleetingness. And don’t lose the treasure which I’ve just shared with you, for it is indeed, a treasure worth clinging on to. So, right now, in this present moment, write something down to capture this singular truth and to remind yourself, and when you wake up tomorrow, before your feet hit the ground and you’re off and running, return to this place of knowing. Remind yourself of the vitality you can experience just by living each moment of your day. You deserve that. The people in your life deserve that. The day and the individual moments that define it deserves that.
Embrace the truth that you can experience joy in this moment. Smile, and realize the possibility that everything is as it should be, and in this moment (if only this tiny one) try to actually enjoy yourself. Try to actually laugh and have fun. Be serious. Be silly. Be whatever you want to be. But allow yourself to BE by focusing your attention here and now.
Every moment is made up of the Now. All your pasts are made up of a million different Nows that have come and gone. Your future is made up of the Now’s that will be. So how about actually experiencing one or two of those? Treat yourself, and unleash the joy in each moment by recognizing the inherent value of the present Now and of each Now that will follow.
Take a deep breath and resolve to be an active participant in your life. Resolve to slow down the frantic pace of your day and exchange the energy of resistance for that of appreciation. Look someone else in the eyes. Say thank you, and truly mean it, when someone holds the door open for you. Place your judgments aside, and allow yourself to just marvel in the beauty of the world. Allow yourself to marvel at the colors, the smells, and the rhythm of the day. Allow yourself to be there. Allow yourself to attend to the presence of each moment of this hour, of this day. Bask in the luxury of being in the present moment.
There is no better way to have a remarkable day. There is no better way to unleash the joy waiting to be discovered within each moment.
A friend of mine recently shared with me that her fears were just skinny little things looking for a good meal.
Wow! Words of truth!
Yet despite the reality of fear’s deprived and ravenous nature, what do we do? We invite these fears inside, sit them down at the table, take their order, and spend most of the day feeding them until they loom before us larger than life. And we do this at the expense of the betterment, health, and joy of our own spirits.
With the exception of instances of immediate physical danger, fear will never (and you can hold me to this) have to do with the present moment. Fear can surface as silent as an invisible undercurrent to a deafening cacophony in our heads. We get stressed and worried about the something “out there,” “up head,” or about what is “going to happen” or “not going to happen,” and on and on. If you look closely at these fears, you can recognize an assumption about what will or will not happen if that something becomes reality. These assumptions are limiting, constrictive, and suffocating; they are our own self-imposed prisons.
My fears are stifling. They all have to do with presumed labels of something being “good or bad”, “winning or losing,” “elation or depression,” and all my fears really do is shut me down. We could choose to exchange one fear for another. Our fears are not brilliant. They are not worldly or glamorous. They seem threatening. They tighten around us as though they are dire, treacherous, and specific, but they are not. They are trivial and generic. When faced head-on, fears (like the bully I endured when I started a new school in fifth grade) will generally shrink back, unfed into the shadows.
The hidden truth is that you are, in essence, magnificent, perfectly whole, and radiantly fine in this moment. You are incredibly capable and purposeful in this moment (and will be in the one that comes after, and the one that comes after that), and the one thing to be aware and cautious of is your own thinking.
Now, when I feel fear creeping up, I make a concerted effort to observe what is present within me at that particular moment. What is it exactly that is feeling threatened? What part of me is rushing to fix and to solve and to manipulate and to change what is going on? Is there something in me that feels I need to take or avoid action?
And as small as it may sound, the first thing I do is to remind myself to breathe. In these moments, I often find my shoulders tensed up around my ears and my breathing artificial and shallow. I take stock of my physical body, and address what needs my focused attention and self-care. I assess my spiritual standing. Have I gotten quiet today? Have I connected in prayer and meditation? Have I been outside? Have I spent time with my loved ones or pets? Have I cultivated gratitude and acceptance today? There are many methods in which to get centered in the present moment, but these are just a few that work for me.
After this, I look at the evidence. I look at the facts. I take the emotion out of the equation and look at reality. If there is fear because I am frightened to take action, I am now able to move forward (if I still feel moving forward is appropriate), fear be damned. I am now able to see the fear for what it is – the façade of an inescapable enclosure forever tightening in on me, and although it may now, still feel pressing, I have enough experience to know it is a shadow dancer and nothing more. So many of my blessings have arisen from taking action IN SPITE of the fear. So many miracles have come from ACTION in the MIDST OF my fear (not in the absence).
If I am still uncertain how to proceed, I acknowledge and celebrate that as well. There are times when after considering the facts, the guidance and counsel of others, and my own spiritual compass, not doing something can be just as powerful and, often times, more difficult than taking action. Because, deep down inside, if I have made my decision based on an awake consciousness and spirit, then there has been a miracle within; growth is always borne from awareness.
At the end of the day, I am tired of feeding these fears. I refuse to engage with these phantom bullies that I help to sustain. Life is too precious to waste one more second in a solo-war. I have yet to perfect confronting my fears head-on, but I have seen the value of even the minimal result of waking up to my fears and self-constructed prisons and doing something different than I have in the past, And this incalculable value is the very essence of change.
I read something recently that struck me: ” It’s not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear.”-Anthony De Mello.
Are you clinging to anything? Are you clinging to the familiar, the old, the comfortable? We find a certain safety and satisfaction in the similar and predictable. I think it is normal, a human trait even, to cling to that which we can define with our eyes closed. We are all guilty of this passive acceptance. This is the predicament of our human nature. The result is a resistance to change; a resistance which is inherently limiting and stagnant.
Why do we stay stuck? Why do we stay in place? Why do we cling to mediocrity? I don’t refer to mediocrity regarding wealth, prestige, or power, but I mean the mediocrity of denying your very BEING. I mean the mediocrity of denying your inherent worth as someone who is breathing. I mean the mediocrity of stifling your purpose, your ideals, and your visions with the negative inner comments you utter: “could never happen,” “I’m not good enough,” “not smart enough,” “not fill in the blank enough.”
Why does our negativity speak louder than the voice we hear inside commanding us to “Move! Do something. Assert your consciousness!” Don’t you see that the simple vow to do, to move, to assert is enough to suffocate the mediocrity and shine light on what is really there? Don’t you see that it is not the final moment, the final goal that defines the purpose, but it is the transformation that is elicited by the doing and the becoming? Don’t you see the joy and bliss that can be found in the very discovery of your unknown destination? Don’t you see the lure of taking action for the love of the transformation itself?
I do not speak of a desire to be famous, to be known to the outside world, or to leave one’s “mark” here or there. I do not speak of those types of aims, for they have absolutely nothing to do with this conversation. But I speak of the much grander purpose to permit ourselves to seize the opportunity to express our unique authenticity and purpose. When we live our purpose, it is impossible NOT to be great, to be known, to leave our most real mark. As long as we try to go out into the day being the person we want to be, open to the possibilities, and really seeking to “do” the things which allow the inherent joy and wonder within to be seen, then we can start to make decisions and effect changes that are in line with this principle.
What types of things are you avoiding? What types of things seem too far away, too risky, too “never going to happen?” Are you ready to re-evaluate? Or, are you still looking for the things that connect you to your most inner resourcefulness and joy? Are you open to what these things might be? Either way, you are in one place and what calls to you right now seems out of reach. What can you do today to start on this trek? Even the smallest possible notion to action is brilliant, magnificent, and necessary. A beginning is still the most fierce of actions, as everything stems from this energy. Give yourself this gift today.
Do. One. Small. Thing.
You will be astonished at the power that results from the shift in your consciousness.
Eckhart Tolle states “Remember that your perception of the world is a reflection of your state of consciousness. You are not separate from it, and there is no objective world out there. Every moment, your consciousness creates the world that you inhabit. One of the greatest insights that has come out of modern physics is that of the unity between the observer and the observed: the person conducting the experiment –the observing consciousness-cannot be separated from the observed phenomena, and a different way of looking causes the observed phenomena to behave differently.”
What this says to me, is that by doing something small to elicit your purpose, your actual consciousness, how you interpret and view what comes next, will change. Instead of allowing fear by this statement, how about conjuring up excitement or anticipation? After all, what could be more thrilling than to be a conscious witness to your most magnificent life? What greater motivation, what greater gift, could you possibly give yourself than the gift of your life?