Tag Archives: the present moment

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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Seagull Island.

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During my walk this morning, and for many mornings this winter, I have noticed a flock of seagulls that hang around at the lake. Now that the weather is turning colder, and ice is beginning to form on parts of the lake, when they gather there, in the center, it looks like an island of sorts where they sit. They are huddled together and occasionally fly away. I often find myself wondering, why are they here? Where did they come from? Why in the winter would they settle on our local, homegrown lake?

 

As I wondered on that, I also wondered, on why I ask why. When I am asking why, about a situation or a person, it is most often because I feel scared. I might feel scared about why someone I love is upset with me, because that means, our relationship, in the way that I am viewing it, has changed. I might feel scared because I don’t know what is going to happen next, so I feel less secure about my life and where it is going. I might feel scared if I don’t understand the why of something, because that means I am not as wise as I might of thought, so I give myself room to judge and criticize myself.

 

For me, any why or wondering question comes from a place of fear. Even about seagulls on a lake, you ask? Yes. When I am wondering why something is the way that it is, I am afraid of something. Afraid of what I think I already know from the past. Afraid of what might happen in the future. Afraid to just let the present moment Be as It Is. You see, when I am coming from a fearful place, if I let the present moment be, then I feel as if I am letting go of control. And, when I am afraid, if I am not in control, that is terrifying. 

 

Maybe being in control doesn’t sound like a problem to many of you, especially if you are a control freak like I am. However, I can attest to the fact that it certainly is not a peaceful place to come from. Not at all. When I am in control, or needing to know the hows and whys of every little detail in my life, I am certainly not feeling at ease. I am feeling tense, and always waiting for the next thing that is about to happen. 

 

The deepest lessons of my life are occurring right now, and those are about how to bring Peace more consistently and deeply into my world. And, the beauty is, I don’t have to do anything special for that to happen; not at all. I just have to be in my world, without questions or judgments or rules. I can just let the world Be as It Is. Let Go of what I think it should be. Breathe deeply and take in what is happening Right Now.

 

Today, the seagulls on my homegrown lake are a great lesson in Presence, because instead of wondering why they are there, I get to watch them dance on the water, hear them communicate with one another, and appreciate their beauty and unique nature. I get to just Be with them, in this very moment.  After all, the Present Moment is all that there ever Is.

 

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The Woodpecker and the Chipmunk.

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I have been been going through some deep, emotional lessons in my life over the last couple of months. I have, at times, felt powerless, hopeless, and overwhelmed by what has been happening around me. I have taken on the heaviness and volatility of the situations at hand, as if it has everything to do with me. At those times, I always feel compelled to do SOMETHING, because I feel so powerless about the circumstances that are impacting my world, or a loved one. Anything that would assist in relieving my sense of helplessness. I have found myself being angry, judgmental, and feeling like a victim. I have focused on the actions or experiences of others. And, through much of it, I have not always focused on my own needs and what feeds me.

 

What I have come to understand about myself, actually, what I believe to be true about all human beings, is that we cannot truly be there for another person, love them as they are, unless we are first caring for ourselves in a deep, intimate way. Much of the time, that just means for me to remind myself to eat balanced, regular meals; to get good, restful sleep at night;  and making sure I get my body moving. When those are sacrificed by me, in the name of compassion or care for others, I have nothing left to care for them with.  In addition, if I don’t “feed” myself, with the activities and time that I need in my soul, I feel empty.  I feel like I could fall into a hole of self pity and have a hard time crawling out.  

 

So, I have been more diligent.  I write every day, even working on a novel that I have been talking to myself about for years but have been putting off continuing. I have beaten on a drum a bit. Taken some walks around town. And yesterday, when I woke up in a “funk”, feeling deeply raw and emotional, I knew that I had to get into nature. I had to go out into the woods and feel connected. Believe me, there was a part of me that did not want to, that wanted to wallow in some self created misery. But I knew that it was deeply important. So I headed to a trail that I had never been to before. I was on the verge of tears. I wanted to believe how lonely and isolated I felt from others. How hopeless everything was. But, I reminded myself to stay present, open and willing to be with myself.

 

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I am always amazed and inspired by what I notice when I really get present in my world. When I first arrived at the trail, I was distracted. I was in my mind and my incessant thoughts. However, I consciously shifted that; and realized that any circumstance, no matter how difficult it seems to be, brings beautiful lessons to my life. And, that when I see others, and myself, as capable, open and completely perfect, magic happens. When I shifted my awareness, to just be present, I found myself hearing and seeing the most amazing things. The sound of the water nearby running over rocks. The rustle of the leaves under my feet and on the hills along the path. A sound that seemed to be a person hammering, but when I stopped, and gently looked up, it was a woodpecker, looking for insects on a tree. As I looked up, I saw at least two other woodpeckers swooping overhead, easily recognized with their red heads. 

 

The rustling on the hillsides were many chipmunks, scurrying from logs and trees to gather nuts, to chase one another. They are so tiny, so playful and so timid. I love catching them with the corner of my eye as they run by. One of them was sitting on a fallen tree, just looking at me, his cheeks bulging with some treasure. He kept eye contact, and it filled me with peace and wonder. 

 

In that hour of time, I was reminded yet again of the necessity and gift of Presence in my life, of Gratitude and Peace. When I am in my world, present to it, willing to accept all that comes my way, and ready to let go of my own need to control or guide, the beauty of the world pours in. When I trust that I am right where I need to be, I know I need to do nothing. And I find the deepest Peace that I have ever known. 

 

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Karma Yoga.

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Reading Eckhart Tolle, or listening to him while I ride in my car, always brings me such insight and revelation.  It seems like even though I have listened to the audiobook a few times through now, each time I hear something new and different.  This week has been no exception.

 

This week was a particularly powerful one in terms of cracking open some old, closed off beliefs and letting them go.  I feel so expanded from where I was just a few days ago, and therefore the light that I am allowing to pour in, and out of me, is extraordinary.  One of the powerful thoughts for me this week was about letting go of outcomes.

 

I have grown up as a human being believing deeply in how things will turn out for me.  That seems most common around expectations, when I have a belief that I want a person to act in a certain way, and my almost assured disappointment every time, because the person does not live up to my expectations.  I set up that person, and myself, every single time.  However, the other area that is an expanded version of personal expectations, is having a dream or goal in my future and doing what I think I need to do to work toward that dream or goal.

 

The problem isn’t in the dream or goal itself, mind you.  It is perfectly okay to desire to have something come into your life and to aspire to it, or at least, get excited about it.  The problem for me is in living out my moments as merely steps to that goal, doing things just for the outcome.  For me to view the work that I do merely as a means to an end- whether that be for the weekend, the paycheck or both- makes it not very fulfilling and pretty tedious.  So, my focus has been on NOT focusing on the fruits of my labor.

 

In his book “The Power of Now”, Eckhart Tolle talks about the saying “karma yoga”, which means, to be in the moment, and live your life, without regard for the outcome.  In other words, to live your life without being focused on the goal, the fruits of your labor.  To just live your life as is, in every moment, as fully as possible.  And, because of that presence, the “fruits” will come of their own accord.  Great stuff, but challenging for me on most days.

 

Yet, I have to say, it brings pure satisfaction to my life.  On the days, and in the moments, in which I am as present as possible, rather than in it in order to get somewhere else, I feel so satisfied.  When I meet with a client out in the community, and I listen to them as a fellow human being, and not as a mental health diagnosis that I have to “help” or “fix”, I feel so inspired and hopeful.  When I keep releasing myself from guilt about not doing this or that, as planned, I have more fun and embrace my spontaneity.  I love myself more deeply and judge myself, and others, less.

 

Of course, I get lots of opportunities to practice, every single day.  And it is not about perfection.   Yet the results that I keep getting, just by remembering as often as possible, to be present, and to catch and accept when I am not, are astounding.  I feel so much more alive, connected to those around me.  I can’t see what happens next.

 

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Warning: All Structures are Unstable.

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I continue to have insights the more that I read, or listen, to Eckhart Tolle. His words do much to remind me of staying in the present moment, and the benefit of leaving things as they are, without judgment. It helps me through days that seem difficult.

Most recently, I also was reminded while listening about the truth of impermanence. There is nothing permanent here. He told a story of walking with a friend in the woods, and coming across a building with the sign “Warning: All Structures are Unstable”. It certainly spoke of the building that they observed there, but also to something deeper as well; that we all are of a temporary nature.

Whether we are talking about our own eventual death, a conflict with someone that we care about, about our current financial state or any other situation that brings about upset feelings in us. All structures are unstable, impermanent, only here for a brief time. We seek and seek and we never find, because we are looking for something, or someone, that fills the void that we think is our lives.

The truth is, if all is impermanent, and all structures truly unstable, than all we can do is accept things as they are, and live fully in the present moment. Doing so is not always easy, mind you. I must remind myself many times daily about what I need to do in order to be at peace and remember that this moment is all that I ever have.

There is so much in our world that tries to show us otherwise; that we can live on and on, that health or beauty or money or belongings can last almost infinitely. And, realizing and remembering the real truth is not discouraging for me, but enlightening. If I remember the truth of only having this very moment, and that all things are impermanent, unstable and almost fleeting, my appreciation for them deepens.

I have come to have greater respect and love for those things and people in my life that are important to me, because I know that it could be just for today, just for this moment. I know that all I have is right now, and I want to make the most of it, while I am in this world and living in this beautiful dream. I want to savor every moment.

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