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December 22, 2018

The Ultimate Escape From What Is

We talk about being here, now, in the moment.

We think about being here, now, in the moment.

But talking about it and thinking about it have nothing to do with actually being here, now, in the moment.

The only way to be in the moment is to stop talking and thinking about it — about anything — for a minute, and actually be in it. That’s about as straightforward as it gets, right?  So what’s so hard about it? Why is it that we’d rather think and talk about being here, than just simply and actually be here?

There’s only one possible explanation.  When it comes down to it, there’s something about being here that we don’t like or aren’t comfortable with. And as soon as that discomfort is encountered in a moment of silence, we internally cringe and retreat to our usual means of distracting ourselves from what’s here.

There are numerous ways of doing that. By far the simplest, easiest, most accessible and affordable way to run from what’s here is to turn to thought. Thought instantly transports us away from here, to someplace else: a past moment, experience or memory.  Or a future idea, plan or fantasy.

Ironically, our thoughts very often take us to unpleasant memories from the past or worries about the future. And yet, maybe because we know these are not actually real and happening in this very moment, we prefer them to whatever unwanted, unpleasant thing is, in reality, coming up when we finally get still and reside in the moment.

Maybe something within us knows that what’s here now is more real than anything we can think or dream up. And we’ll take the fake, non-existent pain over the real pain that pricks and stings like salt on a wound.

But we sell ourselves short every time we do this.  We don’t realize that when we are fully present with discomfort and pain, we have a chance to tangibly encounter it in a way that is never possible when we are in our mind. Yes, that does mean feeling it.  And, no, it won’t feel good.  Pain and discomfort, by definition, never do.

And yet through allowing ourselves to sit with these feelings, something begins to happen.  In life, nothing stays static, and that holds true for painful and uncomfortable feelings and emotions.  As we sit with them, they may hurt worse for a while initially.  But soon enough they begin to lose their edge.  If we do this long enough, these unwanteds have a way of lessening and even disappearing altogether.

By contrast, our unwanted feelings and emotions never go away if we run from them, but rather continue to nag at us in the background.  They’re here for a reason.  They have a story to tell.  They need to be heard.

If we face them, hard though it may be to just sit there and be with these unpleasant things, they do eventually take their leave.  Then, until the next unmet emotion arises for airtime, we’ll find it much easier be here now, in the moment, and enjoy the ease of what that is, of who we are in our essence.

Most humans have a lot of unconscious baggage, so it’s not a one-time thing.

Sit, feel, rinse, repeat.

In spiritual communities, we like to talk about being here and now.  But if we spend all of our time actually running from what’s here, it’s obvious what we really want: not what is, but escape from what is. Not what’s here, but something, anything, other than what’s here.

If that’s the case, the least we can do is stop talking about being here, and start admitting that what we truly value is our dream world of past and future.

 

Involuntary thoughts are like
programs to obstruct being.
Every time you cultivate or entertain
an involuntary thought, you
sell out this Living Moment
for a nonexistent past
or future.

 

Author: Christy Waltz
Poem: from Notes to Self: Meditations on Being
Image: Alice Popkorn on Flickr

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