Make every task you undertake, or person you encounter, your “universe” for the moment.

Rapt attention, as I mentioned in an earlier essay, surpasses in value every other character trait we may possess.  The decision to honor our fellow travelers with devoted attention, in regard to their every word, their loud as well as their quiet behavior, their very presence in our lives regardless of what the expression is; is a gift beyond measure.  This idea may feel suffocating, when first considered.  However, it offers any one who embraces it freedom at a very deep level.  Freedom.  No other decision about life’s journey and our responses to any one we will ever encounter  on our journey ever needs to be made.  Not ever.

I’m of course not sure how this suggestion for how to “see” your life registers with you.  It sounds extreme. I know.  But I have grown extremely fond of it.  It has reduced the stress in my life immeasurably.  For decades, my mind was consumed with thoughts, things, responses, judgments, opinions, negativities of every persuasion that I attached to whom or whatever was just possibly “out there.”  The busyness of my mind felt debilitating.  And exhausting.  Being told I didn’t need to live that way any more was suspect.  Being attentive to “this moment’s universe,” seemed like an impossible, and rather uninteresting way to live.  My mind was out there, mixing it up with who ever I conjured up, no matter what was right here in front of me.

And then one day, as the result of studying A Course in Miracles, I woke up to the Truth that there is no out there.  I was gobsmacked.  Never was there an “out there,”  the course taught.  What we see, “out there,” is what we have projected from our own mind.  Never more.  Never less.  Experiencing only what is right here and now before me, no matter how inconsequential it may seem to be, is a God sent gift.  And I mean that literally.

Some of you have no doubt lived in the moment for years.  Some spiritual philosophies teach this.  I tip my hat to you.  Practice, constant, vigilant practice, was necessary for me to fully embrace that nothing but NOW existed and then learn how to live hereOnly here and now.  I still stumble occasionally.  Some days many times, but the pay off each time I do embrace the present moment is sweet.  It feels like a comforter around my shoulders on a cool evening.  It relieves me of even a hint of anxiety.  I trust that the God of my understanding is paying me a visit within every moment of my life and I’ll miss His “call” if my mind is on the past or guessing about some future event.  Or more than likely, passing judgment on “the who” of the past or projected future.

Giving up our reliance on the past to define the present is a must if we ever want to experience the peace that we are promised when we stay saddled in the comfort of now.  I have decided that I am too old to relish conflict.  In a very unhealthy way I used to thrive on it.  It frightened me but it also made me feel alive.  Now it literally scares me.  There is only one way to avoid being frightened.  I must step into this moment and cherish it.  This is an assignment I can happily accept.

I have made a case for living here and now.  I hope you can see that.  What’s your choice.

4 Comments

  1. Marin Shanley says:

    And PS, Karen, I’d like to share a quote that I’m currently turning over in my mind. I happened upon it as I go through this summer feeling exhausted, for no apparent reason. It comes from Brother David Steindl-Rast, in a conversation he had with the poet, David Whyte. The poet was feeling depleted and just worn out and Brother David told him: “The antidote to exhaustion isn’t necessarily rest…it is wholeheartedness.” I can’t tell you how much reading that filled me with hope and, yes, energy, so I thought that I would share it with you here.

    ~Marin

    • Hmmm. Wholeheartedness. what an interesting approach to how we choose to live any day of our life. Loving wholly each moment and each person I meet in each moment is an enriching idea. One I would say is definitely counter to exhaustion. I suggest we both try this on “for size.”

      Peace,
      Karen

  2. Marin Shanley says:

    Whoa, Karen, this is a tough and tall order. But I’m with you that it is essential to stay attentive to the moment and live here if one aims to embrace life and live in ease and serenity. I’m sure that it won’t be the first time that you’ve heard someone say that yoga and meditation are their vehicles for better achieving this aim, but at the risk of climbing on board that bandwagon, I’ll have to say that it is so for me as well. Until I learned how to turn off my monkey mind and my adrenaline-infused body, the idea of living in the present moment had absolutely no meaning for me. And now, if I slough off and don’t keep up a regular practice, I’m right back in the jungle again. The good news, however, is that the effort to return to the present has become much easier. Another gift of our Program, as well as the aforementioned yoga & meditation.

    As always, thanks so much for your thoughtful writings. They always seem to hit the spot!

    ~Marin

    • Thanks, Marin, for your insightful comments. Living with ease in the moment, any moment, takes willingness and much practice. Fortunately, it seems to appeal to me. Obviously to you as well.

      All the best,
      Karen

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