March 6, 2016

Break Free, Be Present.

author's photo (not for re-use) Lisa Marie White

When I close my eyes some mornings, I can still feel the warmth of the sand on my naked body—I can still feel the expansive relief of resting.

When I dragged my swollen feet and legs onto the beauty of that secluded beach, it’s as if something inside me could no longer sit within its cage politely—something had snapped open.

I needed to feel, I needed to let go.

Without thought for visibility or “modesty”—without thought—I ripped off my shoes, my shorts, my everything. I sank my skin into the embrace of the breeze, the beach, the sound of returning tides and the warm inner pounding of my heart. I lay there naked, breathing.

I have never in my entire life felt so alive.

In pursuit of the hidden beach, I’d hiked for an entire day on terrain I underestimated. Mileage alone does not adequately denote difficulty, and my feet and food stores had surpassed their limit.

The experience had been beautiful—vistas packed with awe, passing characters fascinating and kind—but I was ready to be done. My mind grew more and more impatient the closer I got to finishing.

I’ve always found this impatience counter intuitive—when we’re nearly done, shouldn’t we be excited? Deliriously joyous?

No, it’s in these final stretches that steps are suddenly leaden, impatience gives way to annoyance and frustration tunnels vision. For me, the urge to give up on myself is strongest just before accomplishment. My body screams, my mind is loud. I then notice both and curse my inability to remain zen.

It’s so much easier to whirl in doubt and “should” than to settle into wherever it is that we currently are. Being still means accepting and loving ourselves in our present imperfection, and being limitless means the shape of life is ours to form. This is incredibly empowering and incredibly frightening—if I’m able and present, I no longer have the comfort of resting in self-sabotage and excuses of circumstance.

On this particular day, at the particularly beautiful place, I could no longer handle the constriction of fighting my present and my petulant mind. I decided to let now unfold, no matter how messily.

I decided to stop telling myself I shouldn’t feel annoyed, I shouldn’t feel impatient, I shouldn’t be shouting obscenities at nearby seabirds. (I bet you are enjoying that f*cking unreachable beach!) I decided to just let everything happen and to let it pass. It was like releasing a grip on something I didn’t even know was in my hand, and I began to remember the feeling of an open palm.

author's photo (not for re-use) Lisa Marie White

When we let go of living in thought—in the disconnection of a head removed from the sensation of its body—we are immersed in the present and our experience is enriched by senses we often neglect. But we cannot let go if we do not accept where you stand—if we’re constantly contorting our gaze towards an imagined future or remnants of past.

That day on that beach, I finally stopped trying to force life to happen as I thought it should. With immersive awareness, I just let it—and myself—unfold. I set my mind free, I set my body free, I set my life free.

We cannot understand the relief of a non-judging and present mind until we allow ourselves to experience it. We can only imagine the embrace of an ocean breeze on liberated skin until we strip away our barriers and let it in.

There is nothing more beautiful than where you are—right now—exactly as you are.

Breathe and let go.


Author: Lisa Marie White

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photos: Author’s own.

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