On an average day the mind spends so much time wandering off into the past or the future. The more we’re worried about things, the more we resist what ‘is’ and the more dislocated we become from the present moment and all that lies around us. I’ve often struggled with this when I’m in between projects. After a little break I become impatient when faced the uncertainty around the question ‘what next?’ Part of this is a deep desire to be deeply involved in what I’m doing, but another part is my discomfort with the condition of the present moment. I remind myself of Buddhist observations about how we oscillate between attachment and avoidance. This is something that I’ve been working on for a long time, albeit sporadically, twenty years at least. Amidst the mental clutter of daily life it’s all too easy to lose sight of these quirks of the mind.
There are plenty of challenges that I relish, that I seek out – in fact I’m looking for the next one now. But then there are the ones that life throws at us, whether we think we’re ready or not. It might be a death, or illness, or some major disturbance in your work, or the loss of work, or any number of unplanned events that in ordinary circumstances we wouldn’t actually choose. In my experience, these are the hardest but they also provide the most extraordinarily powerful opportunities for growth when we can treat them as such – when we can become aware and learn during the event rather than just with hindsight.
The shift occurs when we stop fighting the moment, when we let go of our refusal to accept the present situation. When I say accept, I don’t mean capitulate or resign to it, not all, simply accept it as it is. If it’s painful accept that. If it scares us accept that, acknowledge it. I believe this is necessary in order to begin to move through it. After all how can we work with or change our conditions if we refuse to even accept that they are real.
Even more than this, this acceptance creates an opportunity to open up the heart after our refusal has shut its doors. I write quite a bit about cultivating gratitude at this time as well, even and especially for life’s major tests. And in a way, gratitude and this opening of the heart come together. With the opening of the heart we can bring an attitude of love and healing to the moment and those elements we’ve been fighting against within ourselves and even with others. When this happens it always feels right – it feels like the natural state – and I believe it feels this way for a simple reason – it is the natural state. It’s like riding an ocean wave rather than trying to stop it. After all, it takes a lot of energy to hold ourselves in a state of resistance, defence, or fight. Just as it works in the physical body, letting go of this tension has the effect of releasing energy and making it available for the real job at hand – to create, to love, to live
– not yesterday,
– not tomorrow,
– but today.