Monday, November 28, 2011

If you don't know here...

If you don't know here, how can you possibly know there?

You can't have light without dark, and you can't have dark without light, a television artist used to repeat over and over. One day I realized he wasn't only talking about oil paintings. His mantra could be applied to many conditions, feelings and events. You can't understand Joy without sadness. Peace is known best to those that have experienced the ravages of war. Fresh air smells sweetest to those living in an overcrowded, polluted city. These are general concepts I agree, but the principle is the same down at the individual level. For instance, you only recognize your own vocabulary is deficient when you experience someone whose speech froths over with linguistic delights! You'd never know your mother's meatloaf was awful until you tasted some truly exquisite faire, and so it goes...

Taken to the next extreme, we have people who sadly rely on their prejudices to make comparisons. "Those people aren't poor, they have cell phones!" is a common refrain, completely ignoring the fact that those same people don't have health-care, or access to quality education... Poverty can't be imagined. It only "is" when actually experienced in relation to wealth. Prejudices, judgements, hatreds, idientities are all concepts that are applied in place of BEing. These are taught to be replacements for actual knowing.

In this vein, most people are trying to get somewhere else, without knowing where they are. They don't know where they are because they don't know who they are. They don't know who is experiencing "here." They are so distracted by their "to do" list, their identities and their personal story, that they have zero experience simply BEing. Since they don't know themselves, having never spent anytime BEing, they feel a constant unease, and try to ease it through the distractions and gratifications they constantly seek. They believe happiness is just around the corner in a better relationship, a better job, a better house, car, TV, etc. They are endlessly in search of "there."

The truth is there is no "there," only "here."

How do we BEgin to know "here?" The first step is to find a way to shut off the thinking mind. For most people, a continous cacophony of thoughts stream endlessly by. There is no recognizable gap between one and the next. Your thinking mind is screaming at you all day. Living in this state doesn't allow for any BEing, as all of your mind is used up thinking. Your thinking mind is a wonderful tool as a problem solver, but when the problem is solved, you must put it back in your tool box, and get on with BEing!

Have you ever experienced when you lost time while doing an activity, when you looked up and realized that an hour or so had gone by? That hour was spent BEing, flowing right along with the river of life, no seeking something else, no unease, as you were "here." You were experiencing mindfulness. Now, I understand you can't spend all day engaged in an activites that cause you to lose time, you have many responsibilities that need tending, BUT you can learn to bring that mindfulness to every minute of your day. Imagine how your focus would be improved if you weren't thinking of how much left you had on your "to do" list, while in a meeting, or during any other interaction?

Meditation is a proven way to mindfulness. There are many kinds of meditation, including prayer, chanting and affirmations. For most, simply find a quiet spot, sit upright with eyes closed, focus on your breathing, focus on how it feels to inhabit your body from the inside. When thoughts present themselves let them float by, notice them, but don't think about them, don't judge them. BEcome the observer, the watcher of yourself... BEcome aware there is a YOU behind your thoughts. This AWARENESS is the BEginning of mindfulness. After 15 minutes or so, open your eyes, and go about your day. Try to bring the awareness with you. For most people new to meditiation, the awareness will disappear with their first distraction. This is fine and normal. What is important is you experienced awareness and now you know it. Everytime you meditate, you will be able to keep that awareness a little longer. Soon it will BEgin to return to you whenever distractions end. You will BEgin to BEcome the watcher periodically throughout the day. Someday, if you keep practicing, most of your day will BE experienced from a state of aware mindfulness. Yes, when a problem arises, you will take your thinking mind out of the toolbox and put it to good use, but it won't be running the show, and the watcher will know to put it away when the task is completed...

Today, notice when you lose time, recognize how at ease you were during this time. BEgin to observe yourself going through your day. Watch when your thoughts are running out of control. Meditate. Learn to be "here." If you don't know here, how can you possibly know there really is no "there?"


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