We hunt wordly pleasures, quest spiritual growth and go on with our lives, immersed in ideas about ourselves and the world. We try to make sense, remember, conclude, anticipate. But what is now? And who is perceiving that? And who perceives the answer to that? No self. Here. Right Now.
STOP! Ok, read this first paragraph and then stop. Stop looking at the screen and take a few deep breaths. Look around. Touch something. Feel the sensations. Let that become the center of your attention for a few moments.
Did you notice something? A sharpened perception? Or was it hard to focus your attention on the present moment? If you are like most modern humans, you were probably distracted by the monkey mind: A thought, a question, a memory, a belief, a judgement. Not to mention the cornucopia of distractions the modern world has in store for us.
The Monkey Mind
The restless monkey mind often hinders us from being present. No big deal. Life goes on, right? How does your life go on? If you consider yourself somewhat aware of how you lead your life, you probably try to attach meaning to what you do (I do that).
Well, let’s stop making sense for a while. Why? Because when we constantly try figuring things out, we not only leave the here and now. We leave our bodies, too. Meaning we dwell in a head space. Not feeling our temple of flesh and blood, breathing shallow, the mind wandering. When we keep running, can we be with what is? No. Can we witness the beauty on our way? No.
Stop and arrive
Paradox: We move so fast and never get anywhere. But when we stop, we can arrive. Where? Here. Maybe you read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (or tried to read it and never made it all the way through, like me). He is stating an obvious truth and how detached we are from it: We can’t be anywhere else but in the present moment. Are you yawning? Well then STOP reading and do something more useful with your life than reading boring stuff on the internet!
Our fast paced, capitalist, technological modern civilisation, determined by it’s history and culture, is based on NOT living in the moment. And if the lazy slackers among the readers (I am one of you), now cheer „yeah, we should live in the moment! That’s what I always say!“ STOP! Stop using the concept „live now and don’t think of tomorrow!“ to justify that you’re not getting shit done (if you wanna write killer blog copy you gotta drop that „shit“ like it’s hot. Other four letter words do the trick as well).
Nonetheless: Mindful, nonjudgemental awareness of the present is good for your health. It reduces stress, boosts our immune functioning, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure and even helps patients cope with cancer (source: psychologytoday.com/articles/200810/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment).
There is no I
When trying to make sense of what’s going on in our lives and in the world it doesn’t help us much either, that we cling to the idea of being someone. Isn’t the notion that we are a person just a cultural idea? “Could you as an entity actually be a fiction?” asks life coach Leo Gura in this video (watch 3 min, starting 39:11).
Believing we are a someone results in being overly attached (I am). Attached to our egoic ideas about our selves, others, the world. Attached to belongings, status, looks, talents: „I am, I can, I have“.
„I don’t give a shit!“
We are attached to images others project on us and what they think about us. Sometimes we try to wipe that off by pumping air into our lungs, making a loud and clear claim: „I don’t GIVE a shit!“ (that exclamation gets a nice aggressive egdge if you strongly pronounce „give“).
Nice try. I believe: The louder we say this, the more it shows our attachement and the need to deny it. And why DO we give a shit about what others think? Because we judge ourselves – and WE ourselves judge others (I do that). We’re used to judgement and judging. Hilariously helpless we claim: „I don’t judge“. Why do we need to say it, if we don’t do it? We fucking do it! (Ok, here it’s actually not exactly four letters, but it’s still a four letter word. You get the point.)
The pain of being seperate
We think we’re separate, which causes lack of compassion (and lack of compassion causes more separation). That’s why we judge and fight each other – and therefore can’t be close. Theoretically we know: We would be more compassionate, if we felt the connection to others. Compassion causes less pain. It actually heals the pain. “When people are mindful, they’re more likely to experience themselves as part of humanity, as part of a greater universe”, explains Michael Kernis, a psychologist at the University of Georgia in this article.
We see ourselves as separate from everything and everyone else (the duality of perceiver and perceived). But aren’t we in the end just part of external reality, part of all phenomena, like everything and everyone else? Because who is the I that believes it’s the one perceiving an external reality? Who’s perceiving the I or the idea of the I? And who’s perceiving the answer to that? In the end, there’s no one there, really.
Uncomfortable is good
If what you read, makes you feel uncomfortable, good (ME? Judge others? NO!). If you project some sort of anger on the author, like „What does he know?“ „Why is he telling me what to do?“ „Why is he saying ‚we’? He should speak for himself!“ Good. Why is that good? Because it means, something in you is resonating to what I say. And when something resonates with you, you are in a dialogue with it.
Sometimes ideas resonate with us, because we understand they have something important to tell us. But the repercussions of that idea for our lives would be just too radical if we wanted to follow it. So we reject it (I do that). It’s because we realize: A powerful idea can raise the stakes and it would be hard to live up to that and change our ways accordingly. We just have no means to reconsile some progressive ideas with the way we lead our lives.
We try to feel good
Deep down we know we live below our potential, so we need to find ways to feel good about ourselves. That’s why most of us rather have high opinions and good feelings about themselves (I prefer that; at least that what I show others). We don’t want to look where a core pain is tapped and the truth is unconvered. The truth and pain of being seperated from it all. So deeply human – and humanly deep. I have a lot of empathy for that. And nonetheless little understanding.
No need to try – title, duh! – to remember ourselves: We are one with all creation. Because our limited rational mind is of little use in trying (!) to grasp the source of existence (why does existence exist?).
If we make a habit. To inquire the moment. And whatever is perceiving it. We can reconnect. To the source.
Be mindful: Free the monkey!
Don’t get me wrong: We can’t just chill all the time, we need to think and plan, because we need to make a living. But don’t tell me, we never have time to stop everything for a moment. Then we can escape the idea of a time sliced into seconds, divided in past, present and future – constructing a cage for the mind to jump around in like a monkey on speed. Let’s cultivate some loving kindness and free that poor exhausted monkey.
Does anything here resonate with you?
Leave your comment below.