Due to recent events in my life, I have had a lot of time to witness and ponder various spiritual concepts and religious dogma as they played out from peoples’ well-worn patterns and perceptions of life, living, the past, the present and the future. If you are paying attention, you can clearly see how a person’s fundamental foundation supporting their spiritual or religious beliefs or understanding have been laid. I use the words ‘beliefs’ and ‘understanding’ separately because my impression is while someone may state they have a belief in something, it doesn’t guarantee they have taken the time to truly understand how, why or what it is they believe in, or have put forth the time and energy to look at alternatives to what they were originally taught. In a day when we are quick to seek second opinions concerning our physical health, why would we not want to learn more or do more for our spiritual health and well-being? (A discussion left for another time.)
For many, the world consists of the past and future. What we (individually or as a collective whole) have done in the past will dictate what we have in the future. If we do this, then we will get that. What we seem to forget is the present; the now moment. How we take care of this moment is all that matters, and is all there is. In this moment (as you sit and read this post) there is no past and there is no future. There is only now. How you sit and read right now is all there is; nothing else. Your mind may try to draw you to the emotions of a past event; but it does not exist. Or, your mind may play out a potential future scenario; but it too does not exist. At this moment, all you have is now.
While talking with one of the members of one of my groups, I asked the question, ‘Who are you really?” The answer came back that she was an energy that loved to read and learn, and to help and serve others. It was a beautiful answer. What it said was that she lived in her head and in her mind, learning what others had to say about the world, current events, technology, the environment, etc. And, while there isn’t anything wrong with that, we each need to spend time in the present moment, the now, witnessing the life and spirit that dwells within and observing each and every nuance, emotion and sensation of that very finite moment.
Our mind is often a distraction as it gathers and processes information, making us miss out on the very moment at hand. Many of our day-in and day-out thoughts center around what we want, how we want it and when. We think about what is right or wrong about something we are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or witnessing. We allow our focus to incorporate those things that might better satisfy our own personal desires, preferences or needs. And, during that self-centered lack of attention, we completely miss what is happening in the moment.
How many times do you find yourself, when talking with another, thinking about your response rather than what is being said? Are you in the moment when this happens, or are you striving for some future moment? You miss the complex simpleness of that single moment when you allow your mind to wander astray. You miss the present moment; the only one that matters.
Our mind is filled with rules, credos, and teachings from others. It is a store house of data, often satisfied with its existing content, and it likes to control your thoughts, your ideas, your beliefs, and your every act and Being.
- When you find it ‘chatting’ non-stop when attempting to meditate, do yoga, or simply sitting in quiet stillness;
- if it ‘analyzes’ everything (important or unimportant), as though it is going to give you some new and revolutionary feedback;
- ‘wakes’ you in the night and doesn’t let you go back to sleep;
- ‘reminds’ you of your beliefs, whether they are healthy or unhealthy, viable or not and ‘convinces’ you that you cannot change them;
- and, ‘rejects’ any form of spiritual communication, making you question or doubt what you intuitively know to be true;
then you are stuck in the loop of the mind…like a mouse caught on a wheel. No matter how fast you run or how much you read, you can’t escape the mind’s iron clad grip.
So, what can you do?
- Practice being present.
- When your mind begins chatting, with great energetic intention and focus tell it to ‘stop’. Then with effort, return to your practice.
- When your mind begins to analyze that which is insignificant or at a time that is inconvenient, ‘stop it’.
- When it wakes you in the middle of the night, remind yourself that you can think about those thoughts when you awake in the morning, tell it to stop, and return back to sleep.
- Give yourself permission to be in charge and to direct the actions and activity of your mind.
- It is important that you believe in yourself and that you are more than capable of developing a mind that serves you well, takes direction when needed, and doesn’t control your every waking (or sleeping) moment.
Each and every moment you decide to be present are moments of enlightenment, of truly experiencing the flicker and fulfillment of life. These are the very precious moments because they didn’t slip away unnoticed, unrealized or overlooked. We like to capture the ‘big events’ of our lives in photos or movies, but every moment is a big event if we just slow down and be present for it. You’ll be amazed at all that comprises just one single, simple, complex moment. Allow these moments to rebuild your fundamental foundation of spirituality and you.