The Truth of Now.

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I MISS HUGS. It’s true. I understand social distancing. I cover my nose and mouth when I go out in public. I am working exclusively from home. I have not travelled in two months or more. I canceled my True Vision 2020 Hug Bug Tour. And, I have not hugged anyone, but my wife and my cats, for weeks.  It hurts deeply.

 

Fearing but Craving Connection

 

I understand, appreciate, respect and honor the concerns and the uncertainty. And, at first, when all of this started to impact my life circumstance, I didn’t cancel any plans. I believed that in a few weeks, life as I know it would return to its usual routine, its “normal” if you will. I wasn’t sure what the truth was; I’m still not sure what the truth about the virus itself is. But I am playing by the rules, and I don’t want to get sick, or be responsible for others getting sick, either. I want to do my part.

 

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Then, a couple of weeks ago, I started to get depressed. I started to wonder, what will happen to hugs in our world? To touch? I believe in hugs and touch more than anything, as being a source of connection, healing, and Universal Oneness. I felt scared that it may be possible that human beings will avoid touching one another. That out of fear of death, which is a completely natural phenomenon as a human, we will disconnect from one another in ways that we may not have ever imagined. I believe that those fears and worries about the future created hopelessness in me more than I have felt in these few weeks of strangeness.

 

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However, this week for me, the sun came out again. Not because the projections are any more favorable about touch. Not because there is an imminent time that distancing will be lifted and that I will be free to resume life as I have known it. But because I remembered, thank goodness, what the Real Truth is for me. The only Truth, to be honest. And, that is the Truth of Now. Now, it is all there Is. It is the only Truth. The past is a memory trace; the future has not even happened yet. So whether it is hope for a better future, or despair at a projected one, I only cause suffering for myself when I dwell there, or reflect on times that have gone by that no longer exist. Being Here Now is my only saving grace, my only respite from the weariness of what is the current form of Life.

 

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So, I breathe. I come back to Now, again and again and again. When I feel bored, scared, overwhelmed, angry, or hopeless. It is the path that will always lead me back to myself. Back to Peace and Love and Universality.

And, I plan to meet you all in that space again one day.

 

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More Breath to my Breaths. 

Back in January of this year, I got really, really sick. Although I am healthy the vast majority of the time, I get a good, full on illness once every couple of years. I had chronic headache, low energy, and a cough that literally scared people away. It took me a full three weeks to feel back to my baseline. And, I have asthma, so anything that affects my lungs that drastically feels concerning. And, when I do get a virus or flu the last few years, it goes directly to my lungs.
Now, two months ago, I was only vaguely aware of the coronavirus. When I write that, I feel so self centered; because it literally, was not impacting me or those that I care about the most, I didn’t pay much attention to it. I wasn’t aware of the very beginning stages of its impact on China, and Italy. I wasn’t tuned in a bit.
Then, March came. I was more aware of it, especially because of the hard hitting devastation it has had on Italy in particular. And, I felt concerned, because of my lungs, because of my recent illness.
Because, I don’t want to die.
Most people that I talk to now, every day, the topic of the virus starts, or at least at some point, enters our conversation. Whether that is a work call, a friend, a family member, or someone on line. It is everywhere. And, although I don’t watch the news hardly at all, what I read and see is terrifying. I think most of us, worry that it is going to kill us, or someone that we love.
So, a couple of days ago, when over the course of the afternoon, I slowly lost my energy, like a balloon whose air was slowly seeping out, it felt strange. I know my body. I know when something is up with me. And for me to feel fully exhausted at 3:00 PM on a Sunday afternoon, and after a good night’s sleep, was concerning. And, my lungs and chest felt weird. Like a heaviness. No fever. Occasional dizziness. A dry, unproductive cough at times. Headache that was dull and persistent. 
I got scared. I kept thinking, if this is the virus, it will kill me. 
I DON’T WANT TO DIE.
Now, if you have asthma, or you know someone who does, you most likely know that any emotional stress, anxiety, or intense response to something, is going to affect your breathing. It can, in all likelihood, increase already existing symptoms, or bring on a full blown asthma attack. I remember several years ago, having to lay off an employee of mine, for the first time in my career. I had to be driven to the ER because I had my first ever, terrifying, asthma attack. 
So, when we have physical symptoms, and we are also staying in tune with the world, and all that is happening, how do we distinguish, between what could be concerning, and what is our fear taking over?  I couldn’t tell the difference, to be brutally honest, for two full days.  
So, yesterday, I called my health plan. They declined to offer me a COVID-19 test, even though I had some symptoms that could indicate that I had contracted it. I hadn’t knowingly been exposed, and I didn’t have a fever, so instead of testing me, they just advised me how to manage my symptoms, and ordered me an inhaler for the difficulty with my breathing.
And, this morning, I woke up feeling better. I am sure part of the feeling better is the actual medicine that assists with opening up my airways. But, I am also sure that lowering my anxiety by troubleshooting my symptoms, rather than testing me which would have sent me into the crisis zone, was helpful. And, reminding myself to really, deeply breathe.
Throughout all of this, whether I am ever diagnosed with coronavirus or not, all that I can do, beyond the safety measures and social distancing I have been diligent about, is to breathe, and to Be Here Now. All I can do is bring more Breath to my Breaths. Easy? Not always. What I fear the most is death, even after all of the work that I have done to remember that EVERYTHING, including me, is impermanent. Yet, I always can be reminded. And, the reminders, although they can stir up every fear that lies dormant in me, still land in the fertile soil of Presence eventually.
So, no matter what, even in the midst of all that is right now, I can still, gratefully, choose Peace. 

End of this world (as we know it).

Florida, March 2019
Wow. The form world is really upside down right now. Things that never seemed possible in this lifetime; the level of uncertainty and fear; the feeling of isolation and loneliness. To me, it seems uprecedented; I don’t have a single circumstance to relate to it or to compare it to. It seems surreal, it seems like my worst nightmare, it feels more hopeless than I have ever felt before in my life.
I have spent much of the time before this, developing a daily commitment to my own level of peace, of feeling centered and balanced. At first, that came out of necessity, because I was living a pretty tight, unfulfilled existence. More recently however, I have found that I can’t NOT go back to breath, come back to the present moment, let go of anything that I can’t control.
Which is EVERYTHING.
And now, I am finding that all of that practice was for a bigger purpose. That my diligence in being as present as possible, to surrender as often as possible, and to do my best to accept everything as it is, is more important than ever. To disengage from the various forms of this world that I have been wedded to, many of us have, for our entire lives. The freedom to travel when and where we want. To go to the store and find an ample supply of goods. To go to our jobs everyday feeling secure that they will be there for us. 
To touch and interact, and gather with one another.

I have spent the last few years letting go of belongings, to simplify more, and to also let go of old ideas and beliefs about who I am. For me, hugging was about the last form based entity that I felt called to, inspired by, and always used as a practice of presence and peace. Now, I am letting go of even that. And, it hurts. It feels strange. It doesn’t add up with how I have built my world and what I looked forward to continuing to build.

Atlanta, July 2019

It is indeed, the end of the world, as I have known it to be. Even with disengagement over the years, even with presence and surrender, I feel overwhelmed. I feel lost, hopeless and vulnerable. So, yet again, I keep calling myself back to the only solace, the only respite, the only space that is true. The Now. In these times, that can seem almost impossible. Yet, I use the tools that I know. I call upon the structures that have guided me. I keep returning, over and over and over and over again.
And, I remember, that the passing away of the world as I have known it, that will only seem like loss and suffering if I don’t accept things as they are. So, I keep breathing. Pausing. Disconnecting from news, and connecting with people. I create. I rest. I cry. I give to myself that which can best sustain me. As we navigate through this new level of consciousness and internal knowing. 

I trust in what I know to be the Truth. 

A Quiet Mind.

For most people, the mind is not known for its quiet nature. For me, and many people, it is known for being loud, and persistent, with never ending thoughts, ideas, worries, and stories that are floating through it. Some of those stories and ideas catch our attention more than others. When they catch our attention, it is like everything else around us stops. We become entranced by our mind and follow it wherever it leads us.
Beyond the thoughts that pop up, and catch our attention, there is the busyness of the worried mind. That was always the category that my mind fell into. I would wake up with worry, about my relationships, my child, my job, my money situation, or any other number of concerns. None of which I could solve lying in my warm bed; or that needed any solving at all. Just situations and circumstances of my life that I felt weren’t quite where I wanted them to be, and my ruminating thoughts seemed to be the essential component to “solving” my “problems”. Yet, the result was guts that were churning, loss of sleep at night, and a vague sense of unease and doom throughout my day.
Now, I am a pretty positive person, but my mind used to be so active, that I started to define my call to action or to “do something” as my way to care about myself and the world. I truly believed that it was a loving gesture, to attempt to control or affect my circumstances. The real truth was, that doing something, anything, seemed like it would calm the monkey mind. Rarely did it bring more than a temporary reprieve, however, and I would then pick up something else to worry about.
Then, I discovered Eckhart Tolle. What a miracle finding out about him was, and is, in my life. Learning how to detach from my thoughts; to realize that Now is all there Is; and to disengage from worry. To truly surrender to What Is.  It hasn’t been easy, and my thoughts are still swirling around in my head. But, the majority of the time, the chatter and ongoing thought production in my mind, has been replaced by a quiet that I have never experienced. My thoughts float by like clouds in the sky. 
And, the quiet that I experience? It is deafening. Actually, it is even more than a quiet, it is almost like a hum. The hum of the Universe. You know, that frequency that you experience in your ears, before a snowstorm arrives? That’s my new frequency.
A quiet mind does so much for me. It allows me to let things be as they are. I watch my thoughts go by, rather than becoming caught up in every one and create a story around it. I breathe more, intentionally and in the moment. I stopped DOING all the time, and just BEING. The difference is astounding. The results are life changing. And, I am happier, more at Peace. More in my life than ever before.
It takes practice. It takes commitment and diligence, to truly reap the rewards of living presently and in the Now. So, in the midst of struggle, change, and Life circumstances that seem difficult, do your best to cultivate a quiet mind. Sit for a few minutes each day; read; reflect; journal. Walk in nature. Take a bath. Nurture yourself.
Give yourself the gift of Presence. And see what happens. 

Truest Vision. 

The world is feeling pretty surreal about now. There are many different types of information that are around; it is hard to find what the facts are; and people are scared. Scared people do things at times that are impulsive, rash and don’t make sense. I  get it. I understand. And, I have considered many different options and ideas throughout this week, never anticipated last Monday that we would be where we are today; isolated, afraid, and in a period of waiting and hoping that things get better.
By nature, I have always been a person that worried, about everything, and at times, it would border on the level of panic. I would ruminate on things, I lived constantly in the future, and “What If” realm of thinking. Of course, worrying and ruminating on anything never made it not happen, or changed the outcome. But, I believed that if I worried about it enough, I would generate creative ideas and pre planning that would have me prepared for any outcome. Whether I was stocking up on groceries because of an upcoming snow storm; planning and packing for a trip weeks in advance so that I would not forget anything; or wanting assurances from those around me without knowing how things might turn out. At the time, I believed that all of these “plans” helped me to be doing SOMETHING; I thought that belief would bring me some sort of consolation that everything would be okay.

But then, seven years ago, I found out about Eckhart Tolle. Amidst all of my self help books and videos that I would consume over my adult lifetime, I had never even heard of him, let alone read anything by him. His words, his truth, changed my life in record time. I came to understand that Now is all there ever is; that there is no future or past; and that being in that state of awareness, that acute Presence, relieves me of any anxiety or rumination. Reading his words, listening to his talks, and putting it into practice over the last few years, literally saved my life. 

It doesn’t mean that I believe everything is always perfect; or that I have not had struggles and issues to deal with in those last few years. To the contrary; I have had many, life altering circumstances that I have had to deal with in my world. Death. Dissolution of relationships. Moving. Job changes. Illness. What it gave me the ability to do, was to put into practice, in the most difficult circumstances, that which I was learning. And, over time, I have come to understand that even if I am facing a difficult life situation, I don’t HAVE to suffer. I don’t HAVE to be unhappy. I can simply accept it As It Is; Surrender to the circumstance; and trust that all will be well.


Some days, I feel better at the practice than others. Three years ago, when my aunt died, was one of my biggest challenges to remembering presence so far. It hurt deeply, and I allowed the hurt to consume me. And, since then, have had many more opportunities to put it to work for me. Breathing and being Here Now. And, slowly, I began to realize how life circumstances outside of me had less and less of an impact on my sense of Peace, my inner state of well being. I felt different. I felt BETTER.
I have grand plans. I want to travel more, hug hundreds, thousands more people. I want to write, I want to talk, I want to grow and be and evolve. And, Life has other plans sometimes. And, anything I have planned for myself, including the biggest, most profound Hug Bug Tour so far, may not come to be. Nothing is certain here. Everything is fleeting and impermanent.  Yet, we can be in the Present, Be Here Now, and understand that although the circumstances may feel frightening, and overwhelming, we can still surrender. We can still be at Peace.
Peace is my Truest Vision.