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perspective

What About Now?

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What About Now?

When was the last time you celebrated the sun’s birthday, the birth day of life, the leaping greenly spirits of trees, the blue true dream of sky, and gave thanks for most this amazing day? We spend so much of our time in the past which is dead and the future which has yet to be born. What about now? These types of connections are for the living, and the present is the only time we are fully alive.

Before you send the eyes rolling and write this one off as some more idealistic whimsical new age cow dung being regifted, hear me out.

I get it.

I’m not exactly high on life all the time either. I too am working overtime and often feel the elusive balance of existence. It hardly feels like there is time to take a breath let alone actually feel it! And that is the point. So often we place these types of mindful moments–and feeling in general–on the later list and overlook the possibility of mindfulness as a way to be. When we start to see mindfulness as the plate itself rather than another item on it, we start to understand its value.

To be mindful means to be fully present in the moment, without judgement. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown defines scarcity as the greatest cultural influence of our time. Scarcity, the “never enough” problem, is the judgmental default belief system we all perpetuate inside and out. As Brown states, “We get scarcity because we live it.” There is never enough time, or money, or confidence, or power, or certainty, or support, or…

We wake up each morning already feeling inadequate, and our own belief in inadequacy enables that in each other. The weight of each moment becomes too heavy to bare.

So how do we lighten the load?

A good start is by considering the opposite of scarcity which is “enough”. By continuing the practice of acceptance in each moment, just as it is–just as we are–we create an opportunity to expand the experience of the now, unadulterated. Who knows, maybe we will wake up to the birth of wings upon us and the gay great happening illimitably earth. Or maybe it will take a while for our days to feel that poetic. Either way, a step towards mindfulness, a practice that has been shown to help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and even reduce gastrointestinal difficulties is indeed a positive one.

Mindlessness is the flimsy foam picnic plate as mindfulness is the fine china. Like anything worth keeping around, it requires some elbow grease to create. Before porcelain can be made impermeable and non-porous it must endure glazing and fire. To be here now takes effort and the enduring commitment to be nonjudgemental, no matter what life serves us. This level of vulnerability is uncomfortable yet something found admirable in anyone wiling to expose themselves so uninhibitedly.

What does being vulnerable mean to you? What’s on your plate, and how could mindfulness help you handle it with more care? How can you live more openly?

I need your openness as much as you need mine, and the entire world needs our full exposure of everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

Start by being vulnerable to yourself. Breathe and feel, observantly. Strip yourself down and dance with the unimaginable You. Let’s meet in the field beyond right and wrong doing that Rumi speaks of and share our own poetry.

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New Eyes

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New Eyes

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. [Marcel Proust]

Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism that means, “beginner’s mind”. It refers to experiencing without preconceptions, observing everything with new eyes. 

My father will often tell the story of the time he took my brother Nicholas and I out for a stroll in the wagon one crisp fall afternoon in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky. It wasn’t long before Nicholas began shouting and pointing, “Daddy, Daddy, LOOK!” My father with fears of all kinds racing through his mind shouted back in a voice of panic, “WHAT Nicholas, I don’t see anything! What are you pointing at, what’s wrong?!” My brother smiled and responded, “Look, it’s a red tree!” 

When was the last time you noticed a “red tree”? Or experienced where you are fully, with a beginner’s mind, free from preconceptions, judgement, and familiarity? Somehow as we age our vision hardens, and the beauty that is each passing moment becomes a blur. The monotony of life limits our sight, even though the reality of existence teaches us that no two moments ever have, nor ever will ever be exactly alike. We label what we see and compartmentalize these images somewhere in our mental rolodex. When we see a similar picture, we recall this image and fall victim of our own objectification failing to notice the subtleties and uniqueness of that particular moment and experience.

My recent cross-country move has kept this Shoshin philosophy wading in my mind, serving as a  mental reminder to not take the abundance of new sights and sounds for granted. I am enjoying and embracing the challenge of not missing the mysticism of the evening fog rolling in from the Bay, feeling the crisp pacific air against my face–not to be confused with a crisp fall Kentucky afternoon in 1987–and the myriad of nuances that make my move and life in this very moment unique.

As Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Regardless of whether you are experiencing a significant life change of your own or keeping things status quo, in essence every moment is a new chapter. Every day is a unique journey. The ultimate quest is in experiencing all things, every moment, as a beginner.  As you continue to trek down your own life’s path, keep your new eyes open, and stay on the look out for red trees.

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