It seems to me there may be something of an epidemic spreading throughout our culture of fast-food, immediate gratification and relatively easy access to everything-we-could-ever-imagine-at-our-finger-tips.
This has been steadily weighing on my sensibilities. Everywhere I look there is the admonishment to: follow your heart, chase your dreams, and throw caution to the wind. ‘You only live once’, they say.
I used to be one of these peddlers. I used to post bold status updates on my Facebook page, meant to enliven and inspire people into action toward what they want in their life—no holds barred. I used to believe there was always somewhere to get to that is better than here—until I found myself here.
I am still an advocate for setting goals, for dreaming big dreams, for realizing that anything is possible. But I have come to see that I missed something fundamental in my zeal, just like I have been missing something fundamental in my life.
What I missed in the hustle and bustle of that world—where I moved from one thing to the next, from one job to the next, from one hobby to the next, from one relationship, religion, friend, idea, process, seminar, complaint, interest, or social media platform to the next—was the simple, quiet stillness of taking it all in.
I was so consumed by the drive to get somewhere else, to prove something, to be somebody important, that I conditioned myself to continually look beyond what was actually in front of me: all the love, the relationships, the comfort, the home, the peace, the lessons, the contentment in my body—all these simple pleasures lost their luster.
I was looking into a mirror and refusing to acknowledge the reflection.
Until, a series of personal (self-inflicted) crisis’s brought me quite literally to my knees; I found myself bruised and bleeding—desperate for something to relieve my anxiety, ease my anguish, anything to just let me be!
I broke down. Deliberately. Forcibly.
And then with a foreign and abrupt stillness, I was struck with—This Is It. Suddenly, I was acutely aware of my breath. Like a grace descending on me. I was alone with my breath in the middle of a grassy field. I sat up and dried the tears that had been streaming down my face. I felt the moisture absorbing into my skin, soothing and healing my invisible wounds. I felt the warmth of the sunshine on my face. My god! Had that been shining on me before? My senses came alive. In this moment, I actually came to my senses.
I slowly looked around. Every blade of grass seemed illuminated from the inside out. The varying shades and hues of green were newly fascinating—as though I had not seen grass before. I watched a honey bee descend onto a bundle of clover, it’s iridescent wings batting the air, the fuzz covering it’s legs collecting pollen. I heard myself say, ‘Hello’. Then, I laughed.
I laughed for the absurdity of my angst. I laughed for the relief of this opening. I laughed for the vision of myself kneeling in the middle of the field laughing with my arms wide open beneath the rays of the sun. I laughed for the sheer pleasure that laughter brings from my head to my toes and back again. I had been swallowed whole and laughter laughed me.
Instead of following your heart, or chasing your dreams at the cost of missing what’s already amazing in your life—try on something new this year: begin to bring yourself to life.
What would happen if we just slowed down in our lives? What would happen if we simply sat with our own bodies, if we moved in our own spaces, if we accepted our own aliveness?
Isn’t this what meditation is all about? Isn’t this why we bring ourselves to the mat?
We sit, and we stop running.
We sit, and we cease the endless push for distraction.
We sit, and we learn how to be with what is actually happening.
We sit and as we sit, we learn that our pain, no matter how intense, eventually subsides. Anger dissipates. Jealousy moves through. Joy changes. Certainty is fallible. We learn that our lives are finite and our being is infinitely wondrous. Let’s wonder together.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Mohammed Sinardi/Pixoto