Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
~ John Lennon
Who said life would be like walking the yellow brick road, or that the human condition would be easy? And why is it so important to be here? What’s the big deal? It appears that the reason we’re not happy is because we long for things to be other than they are. We’re not satisfied being here. Not satisfied being with what is. We want things to be different, because we believe that if they were we would be happier. Therefore, we’re not truly present with our reality.
Certainly many of us face challenging situations, but resistance only makes this harder. It can turn pain into suffering. Taking each moment at a time enables us to be with whatever is happening. When we were in England, Ed was chatting with a nun named Avis. He said to her, “Some day we will all die and meet up in heaven.” And she replied, “Yeah, and we’ll look at each other and say, ‘What was that all about!'”
Normally, we spend our time either living in what-could-have-been or what-might-have-been or if-only, or in the expectation of what-could-be or what-might-be. But constantly living in either the past or the future is like being in a dream, as it limits our capacity to be in the present, with what is happening now. No matter how much we try, plan, plot, arrange, have things to do, we still have no idea what will happen next.
We used to live next to a river and walked beside it each day. But as much as it looked like the same river, even the same water, it was constantly different. Just as we may look the same, the cells in our body are forever being formed, growing and dying; we are continually changing as we renew ourselves in every minute.
We can stay open to these moments of change by simply being aware of them. Right now, just stop and take a deep breath. As you breath out, just notice how your body feels, the chair you are sitting on, and the room you are in. That’s all. It only takes an instant to be present.
Contrary to common belief, it can be immensely liberating to have nothing going on, to discover that the whole universe is contained in this moment. To realize that nothing more is required of us than to just be aware and present. What a relief! Finally, we can experience this reality just as it is, without expectation, prejudice, longing, or without the desire for something to be different. This invites a deep sense of completion, that there really is nowhere else we need to be or go. It’s impossible to think of somewhere else as being better for the grass is vividly green exactly where we are.
Someone once asked Ed if he had ever experienced another dimension. He replied, “Have you experienced this one?” There is no greater joy in this whole world than our own true self.
Practice: Being and Breathing Meditation
When we meditate by simply watching the flow of the breath it naturally brings us into the present. The breath is just breathing, and yet it is never the same, each breath is completely different to the last one.
Sit comfortably with your back straight, hands in your lap, eyes closed. Spend a few minutes settling your body.
Now bring your focus to your breathing, just watch the natural movement as you breathe in and out. Silently repeat, “Breathing in, Breathing out.”
Stay with watching your breath. If your mind starts to drift just see your thoughts as birds in the sky and watch them fly away. Then come back to the breath.
Anytime you get distracted, bored, or stressed, just come back to the breath, to this moment now. Silently repeat, “I am here, I am now, I am present. I am here, I am now, I am present.”
You can do this for a few minutes or as long as you like. When you are ready, take a deep breath and let it go, open your eyes, and move gently.
Photo: flickr.com by Andrea_44
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger
hot on elephant
The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home. Mom, can I Call her Mom, Too? These People are Rare Gems—Keep Them, Fight for Them, don’t Give Up on Them. An Open Letter to the Fixers. How your Stored Memories in the Amygdala can lead to PTSD. Jon Stewart makes first appearance since retiring—”it’s not your country.” Waylon shares 10 transformingly beautiful Quotes about Love. 40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years. The Right & Wrong kinds of Solitude we Seek.