How do you stay in the moment ?
It’s a deceptively simple question which many of us struggle to answer, let alone integrate into our daily lives.
If, as buddhists, we hope to be released from suffering, this practice should be a central part of our awareness. For me, this practice starts at 04:00 am at meditation, where I remind myself to “focus on the breath”. When I do this, I give myself a better chance of avoiding “monkey mind” and getting the most from this practice and the day ahead.
Fast forward to the working day and like you, I’m bombarded with thoughts of things that need to be worked on, which colleagues or myself need help on. These things contribute to a perpetual state of “Monkey Mind” where I am drawn away from the peace and freedom of the now. Then the more I think about them, the more of them I attract. So how do I return to the now ?
Remembering the words of my teacher, I look at my feet and say to myself to “stay where my feet are”.
That one thought grounds me to where I am and the moment I am in.
No matter what the situation I find myself in, when I sense frustration at how something is going, resentment or disappointment, even shame at my actions, I stop, breathe and look at my feet. I become conscious of this, forgive myself, make another choice and embrace the now. Slowly, I forgive myself and allows myself the freedom and to show up completely for others.
From there, a confidence returns to be able to let go of the past, not to worry about the things in the future. My consciousness shifts to the now.
On reflecting over the many moments where I have reminded myself to look at my feet, I’ve noticed a pattern to the things that make me need to and what I learnt from doing so. My top 5 are below
(1) “I don’t know” .
One of the most interesting courses I’ve ever attended was about the “Destruction of ignorance”. While at face value, the course title might seem strange, the point of the course was that it’s ok not to know, its even ok to let go of the things you think you know too. By thinking we know something we unconsciously assume, we don’t challenge the status quo or even ourselves. By admitting I don’t know, I make myself teachable to new lessons and possibilities and I become better for it.
(2) “Let it go”
Although my daughter (and probably your kids too) will tell you it’s a Disney Anthem, there is a freedom, wonder and mystery in the present. Look around, ask, seek, and discover that which is waiting to be discovered and expressed through you. Its fun too ! Each of us has a capacity, but in order to be available, we have to clear out the stuff that we no longer need. It doesn’t mean to say its gone forever, you can always pick it up again……..
(3) “What if it all goes wrong”
This can often be a paralysing fear which takes courage to overcome. There are lots of ways of looking at this though. Usually, when I look at my feet, I realise that its already going wrong, so I’m often not losing anything by trying. Fears ok, as long as you don’t let it paralyse you. Being afraid to jump out of an crashing aeroplane won’t kill you. Letting that fear paralyse you from pulling the ripcord on your parachute however…..
(4) “Why’s this happening to me”
Whatever is showing up in your current experience is meant to be there or it wouldn’t be. This simple thought allows me to move from being a victim to being empowered to triumph. Often too, I realise that it’s not “just me”. Even though you’ll often hear people say they dont like Mondays, they tend to happen to everyone. How I react to it is my choice though. I am responsible and “response able” for my own happiness.
(5) “What I have defines who I am”
What clothes and shoes are cluttering your closet that you haven‘t worn in over a year? What junk is taking up space in your filing cabinets or kitchen drawers? Cleanse, clear, release, and in your emptiness you shall be filled with good. I was once privileged enough to meet the Dalai Lama and ask him a question at the Vajrasattva Ceremony in Nottingham. I asked him “Can happiness exist in a state of no mind ?” his answer “yes”. If its good enough for him, well, what more do I need to say ?