When we look a little closer, we realize that in order to live it, we will have to get down in our bodies. And stay. It is not always pleasant to be in our bodies, but to be present means to welcome life in its totality.
It is tempting to try to live in a world made of daydreams and tidy ideas rather than living right here. Many of us use our intellects and even our spirituality as an attempt to escape this wild, messy turmoil called human life.
But for the feminine, it is too faint-hearted to abide in lofty spheres of golden light. She longs to dive unreservedly into life. She realizes with all her being that she cannot separate spirit from matter and that the divine is not residing somewhere else. In her willingness to stay fully present, she allows spirit to reveal itself in form.
Our practice is to embrace life by loosening the grip of the mind and emotional dramas enough so that we can grace the world with a tangible embodiment of presence and love.
It is commitment to the moment, where we even choose to feel hurt rather than to kiss the cold lips of yesterday’s bliss.
Everything changes the moment the grip the soap opera of our lives has on us relaxes enough for our attention to rest in the moment. Not that the swirling dance of life stops or ever will; it is more that our relationship to what is happening changes.
At the moment the domination of our thoughts rests a little and we are fully here, we can recognize the luminous consciousness that permeates everything and realize that this is essentially what we are made of. For some, a glimpse into this dimension of reality will be a pleasant but fleeting experience; it will soon become just a memory, and they will go on with their lives as before.
For others, it shakes everything from the bottom up and becomes the new foundation their life is built on. Once we discover the intense joy and peace of this deeper nature, all our thoughts and emotional dramas will never again have the same significance. This realization is often referred to as a “spiritual awakening.”
Spiritual awakening is sometimes thought of as very rare. It has been sought as the peak of spiritual seeking, as something that mostly happens to very few Eastern monks or gurus. But after meeting with thousands of women around the world and listening to their experiences, I have no doubt that we have all experienced shorter or longer moments when our sense of self expands into something bigger.
Often it is the very myths about spiritual awakening that make us ignore those profound glimpses into our most natural and innocent being.
Maybe you have felt absorbed into a vaster stream of life while painting or playing music, while being stunned by a majestic vista in nature, while snorkeling in the ocean, or while being swept away in lovemaking.
My friend gasped after giving birth to her daughter, “I have never felt so one with the infinite, with the mystery, as that moment when she slipped out of my body so utterly perfect.”
Although often times presence comes as a kiss of grace, it is absolutely possible to cultivate presence by the simple regular practice of moving our attention from our thoughts and into the body. Like the most trustworthy anchor, your body is always right here.
Here are a few simple practices for you:
Be Aware of Your Breath
As long as you are alive, your breath is a steadfast, tangible reminder of the moment.
Moving in, moving out. Right here.
Whenever you feel lost in thoughts, bring your awareness to the breath.
Notice how it moves. How deeply it goes is also a reliable barometer of what is going on in your body.
Simply bringing awareness to the breath often helps our breathing become more soft and relaxed, moving deeper into the belly, and helps us become present and receptive to what life brings.
Do a Body Scan
Make it a regular habit throughout the day to scan your body with your awareness.
Rest five breaths in your shoulders.
Then rest five breaths in your jaws, in your chest, in your belly, in your feet.
This capacity to bring your awareness to your body can be of invaluable support, even in times of tension or conflict.
During the day you may find yourself completely caught up in trying to change another person.
Of course, we are not always aware in these embarrassing moments, but if you have just a glimpse of awareness, it is enough; you have the chance to bring consciousness to the situation. It is as if you have been standing in the saddle on a running horse; now you can sit back in the saddle and scan your body.
You will return to presence, to the moment, and be able to deal with the circumstances in a saner way.
Opening Your Senses
In each moment you can enjoy something through your senses. It can be the color of someone’s shirt, the way your neck feels when you move your head, the way the breath is filling your lungs, the sound of the rain, the movement of your tongue. It is as if you are opening each cell to the moment, meeting it as you would meet a lover.
When we experience life fully, through our senses, we are no longer trapped behind the filter of our thoughts; we are one with the experience itself.
When you feel trapped in an emotional drama, in some situation in which you feel closed to the moment, make it your meditation to seek out a way to feel pleasure. Maybe it is just the feeling of two fingers meeting. Maybe it is just the atmosphere in the room, or maybe you becomes aware of the sound of the rain on the windows and find yourself, in an instant, becoming present again.
Photo: Bibbie Friman