An Excerpt from Empowered, Sexy, and Free by Jolie Dawn
Our current cultural system is set up so there is always somewhere to go and something to accomplish before we can be truly happy and enjoy life.
Kindergarten leads to first grade. Grade school leads to high school. High school leads to college leads to graduate school leads to a job. Job leads to promotion leads to seniority leads to retirement. Dating leads to engagement leads to marriage leads to kids leads to grandkids. You may skip some of these steps, but there is always a next step.
Wherever we are, our focus is on getting to the next thing. Once we get there, happiness awaits…or so we are told. I get this all the time when I walk into Nordstrom — it’s a gigantic display of all the amazing things I don’t have yet! As soon as I can save up enough to get that purse, I’ll be happy, right?
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? You’ve felt it yourself — the moment when you get to that next place or you buy that next thing and you realize you aren’t any happier than you were before you got it. Maybe you’re feeling that way right now.
Or maybe you’re feeling that where you are is so hard, so tiring, to intolerable, that any next thing has got to be better. Sister, I’m with you. For me that time came right after college, when I watched dream jobs fall into all my friends’ laps while I received rejection letter after rejection letter.
It’s great to have desires. It’s great to have goals. It’s great to know where you want to go. But your true fulfillment and joy don’t come from those things. And the more I dwelled on the things I didn’t have, the places I hadn’t gotten to yet, the farther from those things I felt.
The truth is, we can never really escape ourselves. Wherever you go, there you’ll be. You can travel, you can get a new job, you can switch towns, you can get a new house or car or boyfriend, but if you’re not settled and present within yourself, you’ll never be able to escape needing the next thing.
To truly find your brilliance, to truly be empowered and free, you must shift your focus from the future to the present. Instead of dwelling on what you don’t have, be willing to cultivate a sense of arrival into the now, a feeling of pure excitement and gratitude for what is. This is the art of arrival.
To me, arrival is a synonym for presence. You’re not stuck somewhere in the past, nor are you rushing ahead to get to something in the future. You are here, now. Your arrival in this moment acknowledges that you are exactly where you need to be and what you have is enough. Knowing this, you are able to look around and experience the wonderment and the magic of the human experience, in a state of acceptance of what is.
Learning to arrive is all about training the mind.
Our minds can get so ahead of us. I used to get ahead of myself a lot. I used to worry about my future, worry about my family, worry about whether I was going to make it. I played out every single possible scenario. This is really what anxiety is: a state of worrying about the future and being too sped up and stressed out to arrive in the now.
Our minds can also have an addiction to replaying the past. You may relive every conversation you had with a particular person or analyze how you could have done something differently years ago. Memories and feelings of guilt, resentment, bitterness, and sadness entangle your mind and keep it from arriving in the now.
On both sides, trouble arises from missing the present moment. When you try to speed up to the future, you get stress and anxiety. When you replay the past, you get resentment and regret. (And when you seesaw between both of those, which certainly happens, you get emotional whiplash.)
It may not seem like you have complete control of your mind. But you actually do! And your practice of being aware of your thoughts will directly correlate with your arrival in the present moment — and the enjoyment and peace you will experience as you arrive.
Realize that there is nowhere for you to go, nothing you need to say, nothing you need to do. Release the past and let go of the future. All you get to do is just be right here, right now, and experience all the release that’s possible when you surrender into your being — the beingness of you.
“That’s great, Jolie,” you might be thinking now, “but how do I actually do this?”
I want to answer that with a quote from Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love. It reads: “We can act and think out of fear, or we can act and think out of love.” The easiest way to learn to arrive is to examine our thoughts from this perspective. Are we thinking, planning, speaking, or acting out of fear or out of love? I promise you that one of these allows you to arrive in the present moment and the other does not.
Fear is what focuses us on the past. Fear is what fixates us on the future. Fear is what tells us that the present moment has no value. Fear is what keeps us grabbing for the next thing even when we know we have all we need right now. And when we fill up our brain bandwidth with jealousy, comparison, resentment, regret, and competition, it will always bring us into fear and out of the present moment.
Simply asking whether a thought comes from love or from fear is a powerful step in the art of arrival.
Here are some other steps I love:
>> Slow Down. Imagine yourself in all the arenas of your life, effortlessly gliding from scene to scene. Whatever you do, give yourself a bit of extra time to do it slowly and consciously. (This is particularly helpful in the car!)
>> Be aware of people you habitually mimic. My mom was always in a rush. She was perpetually five minutes late, throwing things in the car, weaving in and out of traffic, always in a “go go go” mode. So guess what I would always do without even thinking about it? Are you mimicking someone else’s pace to fit in? Can you think of more present, arrived role models to follow?
>> Breathe! Give yourself nice, big inhales, feeling the oxygen fill up your body, and exhale to release everything that’s not serving you. Breath work practices are a key to accessing presence. Yoga and meditation can help you feel your breath even more deeply.
>> Listen. Have you ever had a friend truly listen to you? It’s a gift we take for granted. But so many of us aren’t truly listening to the people we converse with. We always have this mental chatter going on in the background saying, “I already know what they’re going to say. What they’re saying isn’t important. I want to prepare what I’m going to say next.” Stop thinking and listen to them! Practicing listening will ensure that you are present.
>> Eat with Presence. When meals arrive, many of us just think, “Nom nom nom, get in my belly.” But to be in the present moment, allow yourself to be excited by the visuals, take in the smells and tastes and textures, say a quick blessing for the food. Chew slowly and swallow deliberately. You’ll be amazed at how much better your body is able to digest the food and how this practice puts you in a space of gratitude and presence.
The world needs more people who are willing to fully arrive, to fully be in the here and now. Are you willing to be one? Can you promise yourself to slow down, remember the uniqueness and beauty of you, let go of the future and the past, and access the state of ease, grace, and lightness that’s waiting for you? Everything you want is already right here.
Allow yourself to arrive.
Excerpted from the book from Empowered, Sexy, and Free. Copyright ©2022 by Jolie Dawn. Printed with permission from New World Library.