I believe we all have this pull toward numbing, checking out, and mindlessly filling moments with more noise/stimulus than is necessary. And while this may be ok every now and again, it has become a daily practice for many people, myself included.
We do live stress-filled and highly stimulating lives, but our aversion to discomfort and inability to healthily deal with stressful days and slow moments must be improved upon if we want to live more truly and fully.
Below are some ways I’m learning to incorporate into my life in order to BE in the PRESENT more.
I recently had an episode where my body felt drained for the second or third day in a row after a treatment for my Lyme. And I freaked out and got frustrated that my body still wasn’t working. At that moment, my body went from a level 6 fatigue to off the charts level 10.
And then a light went off:
If I hadn’t freaked out about the prolonged pain and fatigue, I wouldn’t have been as tired as I became.
I read in a book (Buddha’s Brain) that the first arrow is the objective occurrence: my body is tired due to filtering toxins. The second arrow is my emotional reaction: I’m annoyed that my body is reacting this way again. I’m fearful because my body still hasn’t recovered from the treatment as fast as I would like. And more reactionary arrows can and oftentimes follow… In Buddhism I believe they call this non-reactivity.
Non-Identity of emotion: Another paradigm shift that has occurred recently is not taking on emotions as who I am. It’s a slight shift in verbiage, but a major shift in how I act. Instead of saying: ‘I am worried,’ I say, ‘I feel worry.’ Emotions are indicators of what’s going on, but they can be a bunch of whiny babies and keep us on a wild roller coaster if always acted upon. Not dealing with them in healthy ways will lead to living less authentic, rich lives.
Breathe and be grateful: The third practice that continues to help me when I’m feeling discomfort is to breathe and practice gratitude. The breath helps my body out of flight of flight mode and the gratitude helps me see all of the beauty, goodness, and being-ness that is already and always with me. Breathing and being grateful for all that I have is a skill of redirecting my focus on what is screaming at me (discomfort or boredom) toward that which is always with me (breath and being-ness).
I’m not a Zen master with this yet, but it has been encouraging to see positive shifts as I deal with intense health issues, normal every day stresses, and just the tendency I have to check out and fill when a moment isn’t as pleasant as I want it to be. There’s less a fear of pain and challenging moments. There’s more a calm stability that comes from recognizing and dealing with emotions in a healthy way. There’s an increased awareness of the comforting rhythm and flow nature moves. There’s a peace to just sit in moments that are less stimulating and therefore experience joy.
Our lives are worth it to show up, sit with and breathe through the pain and slower moments, and experience the joy of engagement and presence.
Consider any shifts you can make to continue to live more fully in each moment. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is truly adding to a moment, or is it a way to numb or fill uselessly. Recognize times when you want to fill up with mindless activities when enjoying the calm present is more beneficial.
What I write about isn’t a new concept. But the awakening of consciousness and how it is playing out in my life is new and encouraging. I’m passionate about connecting more in each moment with myself, with others, with nature, and with the God of it all and am excited to come into a larger awareness of all the amazing beauty that is around us. Always.