Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Meditation 2. The Present Moment.

My happiness, peacefulness and equanimity, depend not on my outward circumstances, but on my perception of my circumstances.

“Be Here, Now”. They all say it. Echardt Tolle. Ram Dass. Buddha. Mindfulness gurus. Thousands of people, saying the same thing, in thousands of ways. It’s become a litany, a catch phrase, a truism that’s lost its meaning through over use.

Here, right now, is a slow breathing, clock ticking, truck passing, white duvet experience. It tastes of toothpaste and smells of July early morning, which in southern Africa is Winter, not Summer. But most of all, it is soft and spacious hearted. Can every morning be soft and spacious hearted? Can icy winter, late for work with the geyser broken yet again be soft and open hearted? Or, beyond personal experience, can tsunamis, earthquakes, uprisings against dictatorships, and the violent quelling of them, be met with soft and spacious hearts? As our world trundles into deeper chaos, more violent wars, children headed households, and environmental degradation can we find peace and inner stillness?  If we can’t find it, we’re doomed.

The drama and hectic pace that is blowing our world apart is not only global, it is also intensely personal. How many people do you know who are not exhausted and dealing with some kind of emotional tsunami? We are in a vortex of chaos, and unless we can drop into the middle of it, with the surrender of a soft and gentle heart that can embrace it all, the vicious spiral will only increase.  However from its centre, held without closing our hearts to any part of it, and responding from there with appropriate clarity and wisdom, we will have discovered the point of this grand all-fall-down experiment.

The size of the crisis is irrelevant; a broken coffee machine, a broken kid’s shoe when we’re late for school, a broken marriage, a broken nation or culture all offer the opportunity to take a deep breath and drop into the very midst of what is happening. Right now. With a heart that can smile and embrace this too. There is nothing we can afford to turn away from any longer. We can no longer avert our global crisis through fighting it, but we can transform it by being here fully and responding appropriately to each and every moment. In the midst of the darkest places, is the seed of purest light. It is each and every individual’s quest to find this seed of light. We find it through the soft hearted, present moment opening towards our full-on lives.

There is a fundamental issue that arises as soon as we start investigating open heartedness. We may find ourselves closed to the pain of a child who’s being bullied at school, to the resentment arising from an irascible boss, or a beggar hassling us with “Funny Money” pamphlets at the traffic lights, or to the deep anger aroused by another massive corporation destroying our fragile environment. However, we cannot open our hearts to those around us, until we open them first to ourselves. Until I, Robyn, open my heart to myself. To Me. Can I love ‘me’ first? All of me? Peevish, prickly, fractious, disheveled, blotchy me? Since I can’t find my open heart in someone else’s body, I have to start the journey with finding it within myself first, and embracing all the pain and longing for who I wish I were, but quite clearly am not. The Buddha stated that of all beings in the entire Universe, the one most deserving of our love, is ourselves. 

Being open hearted to whatever is happening right now is the key to staying fully present, and there is nothing as reliable as the present moment. It is solid. It may not always be the way we want it to be. It is seldom fully the way we want it to be. But it is always there. Any time we focus on it, it is there, in its entirety. The solidity is not always in material form, dreams for instance, are a depiction of what's happening here and now within our minds. During meditation we can be fully present and even lose a sense of ourselves. The present moment can be scary, uncomfortable, angry. It can be constricted and tight or frighteningly without boundaries. We make it the way it is; this present moment is entirely a creation of who we are. When we investigate this moment deeply, we discover that our happiness, peacefulness and equanimity, depend not on our outward circumstances, but on our perception of our circumstances. Wealthy people as a group are not happier than slum dwellers, and on the whole they are not less happy either. We are happy, more or less of the time, dependent on our attitude about our circumstances and not on the circumstances of our lives themselves.

Living fully in the present moment is the ultimate creative act. It changes who we are. It changes how we relate to others and how we react to experiences. As we open more to the experience of how it is to be here, we expand into experiencing how it is for every being we interact with too. If we are fully present, we cannot be closed to the experience of someone whom we encounter in that moment. Fully present, by definition, includes not only our own experience, but also an empathic and open response to the experience of others. Fully open in this moment transcends the boundaries of self and other, of material physical reality, of emotional awareness, and of other dimensions of space.

Not only does this moment include an awareness of those around us, it also includes all of our past experiences, not only of ourselves, but also of the collective consciousness of all beings. We are who we are because of who we have been and how we interact with our surrounding external reality. 

This moment also includes our future potential.  How we experience this moment now, and how we respond to it, creates and forms the future moments; both ours and those of the people we interact with. We are entirely interdependent in terms of self and other, mind and body, time and space, form and being. 

There is no escaping the phenomenon of all is One. The meeting point for this interdependence is this very moment. This moment is the place where we creatively construct our lives.


Notice what is here, right now.
Include all the senses. 

What do you see? The colours, the time of day, close up and in the distance.

Close you eyes to increase your perception of your other senses.
What do you hear? The strident sounds, the subtle sounds, the silence beneath it all.
Can you be with these sounds without judgment?

What do you smell, and what is the taste in your mouth right now? Notice whether you like or dislike the smell and the taste, and let go of any judgment.

What are the sensations in your body? Externally on your skin - a breeze, the temperature, and internally - the areas of tension and those that are relaxed and calm. 
Can you feel these and allow them to be just the way they are?
How is your breathing, deep, shallow, slow, fast, easy anxious? Allow it.

Notice the thoughts that pass by, or churn through your mind. A myriad thoughts a second. Can you allow them to pass by without attaching to them and following them off on some story? Like clouds in the sky.

Notice your emotional state right now. Are you peaceful, anxious, resentful, bored, calm? Can you embrace that feeling the way you would a little child, without needing to fix or change it.

Be with it all. It does not need to be profound. Be with the ordinariness of breathing and of noticing what is here.  Focus your awareness on the simplicity and the complexity, the clarity and the confusion, the depth and the breadth of right here, right now. 

Staying with whatever is there, allows resolution. Breathe into the experience of nowness and be fully present to whatever is there.
Watch it change. The one certainty in life is that everything changes.
Breathe deeply and embrace this very moment.

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