Tag Archives: present moment

Teacher/Student, Suffering/Acceptance.

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There has been deep wisdom that I have opened to most recently in my life. Learning that I would no doubt encounter at some point, but the Now is the best time to be learning it. And even though some of the lessons that I am now learning, are in the same form as in the past, the learning is completely transformed at this time. I am finally ready. 

 

The areas that I have been learning in the most are around being a teacher, and a student; and around suffering, and surrender. No matter who you are or what your life circumstances are, I believe that all of these areas are Universal lessons for all humans. For the earliest years of my life, I was formally and informally a student. Before I was conscious of learning, when I was a baby and small child, a slow, deliberate process of domestication brought teaching to me, and although I was initially passive in the learning, I retained all that I was given. As I got older, and was able to be aware of the learning more acutely, I would receive lessons that were part of formal schooling, and seek out additional topics and learning opportunities that were more interesting to me. I have always enjoyed being a formal learner, and would joke that my career would be to go to college forever. College was the breeding ground for special learning it seemed, because I got to choose what courses to take and what interested me. It was a marketplace of choices and topics.

But, around that time, interesting shifts in me began to occur. I began to see myself as full of knowledge, and stopped having the desire to learn, and just wanting to teach. When I got my undergraduate degree, I wanted to start working because I believed I knew all that I needed to in order to be a great social worker. I wanted to teach others all that I had learned, so that I could get on with saving the world. And, I put my formal learning on hold, thinking there was not much left to learn about how to help others. 

Eventually, I did resume some formal learning, and saw how much more there was to know in the world. I started seeking spiritual teachers then as well, and was eager to gain as much knowledge as I could, emulating my instructors and thinking that was the way to believe and think. And, then again, wanting to become a teacher in the world, believing I had the best of information that others needed. With that, I would also stop being willing to learn, thinking, this has to be IT, everything that I need to know. 

My other big area of lessons has been in the realm of suffering, and what that means, in terms of my human experiences, and what stories that I tell about it. I used to believe that suffering and difficult experiences were all part of the human condition, that we all have bad things happen in our lives. And, terms of fact and structure, I still hold that to be true. Bad things happen. Yet, the degree to which we suffer over the circumstances and events that happen is directly related to how much we accept life as it is, or don’t. I would often blame the outside world, or my girlfriend, or God, or traffic or other fellow humans for my degree of suffering: it is all their fault. And, if I had a bad experience, and didn’t feel sad or distressed about it, I thought there was something wrong with me; to suffer over my circumstances seemed like a way to pay homage to it. To honor it. 

My current belief is that even a person or circumstance is what leads me into sad, angry, or distressing feelings, I still have the power to choose; to choose what type of story I want to tell myself about it. I also ALWAYS have the power to choose to remember that the present moment, right Now, is all that there ever is. This moment. And, when I am able to be in this present moment, and to accept whatever comes in it, as just being what it Is, the suffering is less. Surrender brings great freedom and deep relief. Choosing surrender and experiencing peace honors the events of our lives in a deeper way, because it means we are in deep acceptance of the fleeting, ephemeral nature of all things. 

These two pairs of experiences and beliefs are actual paradoxes of one another, but ones that are required for the other to occur. That is the part of wisdom that had been lost on me for the first 50 odd years of my physical existence. In order for me to learn how to surrender, there has to be the experience of suffering. And, for me to be able to teach others, I have to always be willing to learn. One does not exist without the other. And yet, even though I resist, I get scared, I don’t want it to be true, I know that it is the only way that I will learn that which are the deepest truths of my life. 

This moment is all there is; and I want to experience it as deeply as possible with no promise of what may come next. 

 

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Notice the Fireflies.

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I recently began as a volunteer with my local hospice organization. Persons that are referred for hospice services are presumed to have six months or less to live. Hospice services assist with their medical needs, social work needs, or provide companionship and emotional support. My interest in becoming involved with hospice is my own interest in death, dying, and assisting those that are close to death in making their transition. I will be a guardian angel for them, sitting vigil in the last few hours and days of breath. It is not a career, as much as it is an inspired calling for me right now. 

 

With the training that I received this week, and meeting the first person that I have been paired with, I feel completely at ease being where I am. And, I find myself being even more acutely aware of the present moment, and the importance of that. You see, the present moment is all that we ever have, even though it feels like our lives are based on past and future the majority of the time. The truth is, the past is merely a memory trace, and the future is just an anticipated outcome, that may or may not come to be.  Yet, that is often how we define ourselves and establish our identity in the world. 

 

For persons that are dying, especially those that are actively dying at a relatively young age, there is no more planning for far into the future; the reality is, that they have fewer breaths remaining than they had planned on or hoped for. So, presence of what is in their now, and appreciating everything that they have in their lives becomes of more critical importance. However, it is a reminder that could serve all of us in a meaningful way. 

 

I read, listen to, and remind myself daily of the importance of present moment awareness, in accepting things as they are, and choosing peace over conflict, judgment, regret or anticipation. It takes daily reminding for me to remember the importance of it, believe me. Yet, I am amazed at the details that I get to immerse myself in when I pause long enough from my agenda ridden life, and pay attention to what is happening right now.  

 

Gift yourself with the celebration of the present moment. Enjoy the symphony of birds in the morning as you awaken. Watch the puffy, changing clouds from your car on your drive to work. Breathe deeply in between the bites of your meal. And, don’t forget to notice the fireflies that glow with such mystery in your backyard. The moments deserve our full attention. 

 

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Beyond the Impulse.

I have been creating a new kind of happy in my life lately. In the midst of weather woes, health issues, and family needs, I have been finding more peace and contentment than I think that I have ever known. In my whole life.

This has come about for many deep reasons, but it all really comes down to one, simple thing: I have been living my life beyond the impulse.

I love to be impulsive, like get up and go somewhere that I hadn’t planned on. Buying myself something special that I really want. Writing to or calling someone out of the blue. But, there is something interesting that I have been discovering about me and impulse.

When I am impulsive, I tend to act without fully considering my choice. It doesn’t make all of my choices wrong choices; but it really means that at times, I have been not fully present to the choice that I was making. If I wanted a drink, or three, I would have them, simply because the impulse was striking me. If I wanted to eat junk food because I was upset or depressed, I would allow myself that. If I wanted to spend money, lots of it at times, on something that wasn’t planned, I would do it.

And then, the guilt would often set in. Moments, hours, days after I would make the choice, I would feel massive amounts of guilt for choosing something that I wished, after all, I hadn’t. Or, that I at least had thought more deeply about. So, even if it was a sound, good choice, the guilt would shadow any perspective that I might have had about it.

What I have been doing now, in the last couple of weeks, is getting more acutely present to my life than I have ever been. I breathe through the moments, if they are difficult ones, and remember that they are part of the mosaic of my life as much as the joys. When I want wine, or dessert, or an extra hour of sleep, I breathe through that too, just to ensure that my decision is based on me being in my life, right then and there, rather than because there is something that feels urgent, pressing, or uncomfortable so I need to numb it in some way.

And, the beauty of it all is, that when I am present to every decision that I make, there is no room for guilt. It doesn’t mean that I won’t make choices that end up not working well for me; or that I might not have regret for choosing something, or not. It just means that my actions are fully thoughtful, I am embracing the process as well as the result, and I get to own fully what I choose.

To me, when I cater to my impulse, I miss an opportunity to really be in the moments of my life. And, the moments of this life ARE my life itself.

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You are complete……….

How often is in our lives, that we feel like only part of who have yet to become.  That we feel like we are not yet complete, that we are missing part of ourselves.  That there are things missing; like we are someone how flawed and an unfinished work. 

I think that thinking is flawed thinking.

I don’t think that we are incomplete at all.  I think in each day, each moment of our existence, we are as complete as we are meant to be in that moment.  Where are feet are planted, where we are standing right now, right at this very moment, is where we are meant to be, and we are fully WHO we are meant to be as well.

I mean, think about it for a moment.  And, as you are thinking about it, try to think about it objectively and rationally.  Do you really believe that whatever tools or skills that you possess today, are half or a quarter of what you really need?  I mean, you are functioning right now today most likely as a student, or an employee.  You are a parent, a child, and a sibling.  You are a neighbor, a home owner, a taxpayer.  You put your kids on the bus, drive your car, listen to the problems of your family and friends.  And, in all of those roles, even when we don’t feel like we are fully present, we are able to fulfill those roles.  Maybe we don’t think we are doing the best job, but we are doing the job. 

On any given day, I truly believe that we are doing the best that we can, in the circumstances and life events that we find ourselves in.  We possess certain skills, knowledge, and life experience that allow us to make the most informed choices that we are able to in that moment.  In the next moment, we will have a bit more knowledge and information that will assist us.  Whether we feel open to our lives, open to the Universe that feeds us, or not, we gain information, even when we are not looking for it.

But, just imagine when we are actually open to our lives evolving.  When we welcome that information, that new knowledge, when those life lessons that come our way are an excitement for us, something that we look forward to?  Life is always going to come our way, and it is even going to bring things to us that are tragic, or disturbing or frightening.  Still, being open to whatever it is that life brings our way, makes what we gain from it in terms of new information almost limitless.

We are complete, right now on this day, as we are also evolving.  That which seems like a contradiction is actually a dance of cooperative energies:  we have all that we need in this moment in order to be present in the moment; and in addition, what we gain in that moment as knowledge of the universe helps us to evolve to whereever we are to go next.  As each sun sets and prepares for its new dawn, we are wiser, stronger, more learned about what what lies ahead. 

Even when we don’t know it.

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