Welcome to day 10 of our Cookbook for a Sacred Life virtual course!
Today our topic is Time & Space
It seems like everyone talks about mindfulness. It’s become a bit of a buzzword. But what is it and how do we achieve it? Mindfulness comes through various tools and techniques that brings us into the present moment - here and now. Following our breath, being aware of how our body moves, and naming our emotions and thoughts as they arise are just a few examples of mindfulness tools. One great way to tap into the fullness of the present moment is to become aware of your position in time and space
This moment has in it a lawful connection to everything that’s going to happen and everything that ever did happen. It’s not only lawfully connected across space, but across time as well. So that when you are sufficiently quiet and centered, you are in the presence of all of it. That’s when Kalu [Rinpoche] says, ‘You are nothing, and realizing you are nothing, you are everything.’ At that moment you are past, and future, and all of it.” – Ram Dass (Here & Now Podcast Ep. 179)
PROMPT: Today’s lesson is all about getting present! Such a powerful practice that we often need to do 1000 times a minute. I invite each of us to reflect and share a bit about what happens when we actually get into the here and now and be with what is.
The present moment is the one and only place our lives are actually happening ~ so when we presence ourselves to this one moment in which we live, we show up and experience our actual life.
When I find myself future tripping or obsessing over the past, one of the easiest ways for me to get back to the present moment is to touch my hand or my arm or something. The body always exists in the present moment, so this is a pretty effective way to get back into the moment.
This can definitely bring relief to the situation by halting (or at least pausing) the agonizing that I am doing.
I think there is a sort of surrender that takes place when I am present in the present. When I catch myself started to go off into the future, or back to the past, there’s a gentle reminder, or notice, or thought, that says. let it go…and when I am in that present moment, it feels, I feel, expansive and open and interactions are appreciative and joyful. The moments and experiences are full and all-encompassing.
Its all new to me, the discussions, this course, these classes are all opening up and feeding my soul…I feel like I have been starving, and am now feasting on all these “recipes” from this “Cookbook”.
I take a morning yoga class, that meets in a space 3 times a week. It starts at 7:30. Well, every morning at about 8:20, just as the class is winding down, and we’re just settling into Shavasana, the gardeners down on the sidewalk below us start up their Leaf Blowers, to clean off the sidewalk. This has been going on for a few months now. Up until a couple of days ago, whenever this happened, I would immediately start grumbling in my head, about how they were ruining the calm space in my head and ruining my experience of the Asana I had just completed, and blah blah blah…I was so caught up in the past, of the calm before the noise, that Ram Dass talked about in the section about transmuting energy, and the Fire Trucks!!! Well, here was my opportunity to turn that around and stay in the present…and I began to smile, imagining the guy with the Leaf Blower just doing his thing, and me just doing my thing and we were all perfect…It was so beautiful.
As soon as the experience of now happens it is long over as many now-s have taken its place. I am a creature of multitasking and as I sit more often in my now I still have the thoughts running through my mind, yet at least for a moment, allow them to simply flow. There is a beauty from the flowing, not what the thoughts are, but the process of flowing. Namaste
I find it easy to be in the here and now when I am painting or drawing or knitting. Hours go by and I don’t notice at all. I also find it while meditating but it takes longer to get there and is harder to stay there for an extended time.
Since becoming a teenager, I have had a Rolodex mind…. a deep over thinker and once I became a member of the working adult world, a champion multitasker. In 2005 I was hit with debilitating insomnia. I would go for days without sleeping. I was told to meditate but my mind AND my body was to “electrified.” So I began with guided meditations with binaural tones that would change my brainwaves. It was not immediate but life altering nonetheless. I have finally gotten to a place where I do not need prompts from others to get to that present space. I am now wanting to journey to the next place of bringing this ‘now’ energy into the marketplace of my daily activities. This past week has been a bit scary, as my being has slowed down quite a bit. Not sure what will become of my work life because there is no multitasking in this space. There is no ‘efficiency of speed’. The timbre of my voice has even changed. So strange.
There is a vast, spacious and empty ocean. In this ocean, an incredibly small itty bitty pinpoint exists. With intention we can go into that little pinpoint and discover the world of things.
This ocean is silence. In-between the breath and in-between the words exists this silence. Going from the pinpoint out into the ocean is like coming up for air and taking in a big breath of relief. Ahhh
Being ‘in the moment’ can sometimes be blissful, but often, for me at the moment, I observe all sorts of thoughts: the comings and goings of my busy mind.
I see images and hear voices of regrets, of shame, of resentment, and of discouragement, for the things that have already passed, and sometimes I worry about what is yet to come. Usually, though, I have a tendency to relive things, conversations and experiences in quite a judgmental way (of myself).
I know I am in a time of heightened stress right now, and that there will be times when things are flowing more smoothly again, and that it changes the quality of the present moment. When things are calmer it’s more like watching the jet stream on a clear day.
For now, I am at peace with my coastal storms, and the breath anchors me, for sure, as I watch everything come and go.
I find the idea of ‘identifying with the sky’; of accepting and allowing it all to be there, just as it is, just as I am - to be a truly healing practice.
I have been ruminating on the lesson on Renunciation a few days ago, and now I see that being in the here and now supports renunciation. Ram Dass’s example of the root beer desire shows how these attachments pull us out of the present moment. “This present moment is perfect, except it would be so much better if I were also drinking a root beer!” My ‘root beer’ is social media, podcasts, and tv shows. I don’t feel I have to give those up, but being aware of how I might be using them to take me out of the present will remind me to be more intentional about how I spend my time each day. I will count each lapse as one of the thousand times that brings me closer to the truth.
When I am actually in the here and now and being with things as they are, I find my life has a clearness to it. I am clearheaded, focused, yet also can let things come and go like the siren in the audio recording we listened to today. I liked the imagery Ram Dass used of thoughts being clouds rolling by, or as he has sometimes termed it, “its all passing show”. When I can get into that awareness or zen-ness, its incredible. I find that for me being in the here and now also allows me to think more clearly about problems or issues that arise during the day. Im dealing with things as they happen, dealing with them in a calm manner. But of course, that being in the moment, in the now feels so natural as I listened to that recording of Ram Dass today. Its trickier to do when Im trying to then integrate it throughout my day. That is the work, or my work at least! As the prompt says, I get lost in thought constantly. When I find myself lost in thought of the future or the past, I reflect back on the words of Sharon Salzberg, who very gently says “if you get lost in thought during meditation, just come back to the breath, life is starting over one breath at a time”. That self compassion is so important.
Much of this internal narrative is unnoticed and freely given reigns over our mind. As I
become more aware of these narratives I can see themes, habits, attitudes, moods, and reactivity associated. All themes. All impermanent. But capable of creating a strand of irritability that can drive similar habits throughout my day.
I find it can be helpful to acknowledge the thought/reaction, lable it healthy/unhealthy, center on my breath/walking/cushion/sun/an object in my environment, and contemplate counter mental states that can hopefuly move me to a wiser (if momentary) place.
My habits are firmly entrenched. And the world can be a bit harsh. Many opportunities to reinforce these habits. In principle, practicing mindfulness and stillness ‘on the cushion’ provides me more mental spaciousness (buffer) between trigger-thought-reaction when ‘off the cushion’. I suppose, always ‘on the cushion’ in my mind wherever I am. Not gettting caught up in internal or external judgments. It is…a process.
Practicing mindfulness can be tricky. We receive instructions and expectations from society, family, supervisors, teachers, and even the sangha. What mindfulness is. What practice is. What the dharma is. What being a good ‘x’ is. Our role in society, the family, career, etc. This can make evaluating my practice a bit difficult. A lot of this surfaces during meditation, I’ll admit.
These vectors of information are finite, resonding to finite contextually limited/bound contexts; the complexity of ‘who we are’, ‘our practice’, and ‘the moment’ often supports plenty of opportunities for misalignment between internal and external environments/moments. These vectors of information are also often inconsistent. This can often send my practice down different paths until I’ve reconciled these information.
**In my practice: ** Mindfulness helps pause, evaluate intention, quality, relevance, and groundedness of all this information. Distinguish truth from illusion, wisdom from dogma, freedom from attachments, spacious from reified, testable from…
Leveraging snsights I’ve gained during mindfulness meditation is not always predictable. Gained on the cushion. When doing something else. Often quite remarkable, but also elusive like pixies; hard to hold onto for later practice. The sangha is helpful bringing these insights together. It’s a process.
I have found when I let go of worrying about what things are not; this helps me to actually be more present and enjoy people, places, and things for what they are. Being here and now helps me to also be more grateful. It also helps me to be more mindful and aware of how I am feeling as well as how others are feeling. It also helps me to be calmer versus being overwhelmed. Something that I have to often do, especially within my profession as a bartender, is if I start to get overwhelmed by there being alto of people coming in at once, I remind myself I can only do one thing at a time, and this helps me to be present in each task. I also try to remind myself to be thankful that I have a lot of customers). When I find myself getting overwhelmed, I remind myself to breathe and also say the phrase I am human. This helps me to remember to also give me grace when I am not in the “here and now”.
When it seems that I am living in the present, I usually feel that I am connected to everyone and everything. Its such a warm, calm and loving feeling. I also have a feeling of confidence in myself and that everything will be alright, no matter what happens. There’s also a feeling of compassion for myself and everyone in the universe, and I treat myself and others so much better.
When my mind wanders into the past or future, I seem to lose all of that good stuff. So its really nice when I’m able to get back to the present. It has helped me have a better relationship with that brain of mine, which I don’t take as seriously as I used to.