In the Moment...
This morning I was reminded by a friend and teacher of meditation that meditation is about reality, which means that it is about the present moment. He pointed out that the past is gone, residing somewhere in our web of memories, and that the future is not (yet) real. When you sit, breathe, and feel your body, even with the nervous energy of your mind trying to butt in, you are experiencing present moment reality from one moment to the next. All the other “stuff” of life falls away, or at least becomes less tangible.
What this practice asks of us is simplicity, a paring down of our dreams and expectations and judgments and plans. In order to understand who and where and what we are, we need to stop and breathe and feel into our physical body and our heart.
Here are some things I didn’t have to think about when I sat in meditation this morning for 20 minutes: Trump and his surreal universe, worries about my blood pressure, thoughts about old age loneliness, concerns about publicizing myself and my book, the sad difficulty of reconciling the income inequality so vivid in San Francisco, my own mortality which is becoming more and more “real” to me, the complications of being connected to family …. Those are all thoughts and feelings that I have carried over months and years, and for most of them I have no resolution. They come and they go, like clouds in the sky, like the sun and the moon and the seasons, and when I can let them just be for just a while I’m a more peaceful and hopeful person. Instead of wrestling with these prickly, painful pieces of life, I get to have a clear and simple experience, like sipping a cup of tea in early morning while listening to Bach, or walking in the finest of drizzle on a Saturday afternoon with my dog on Union Street, and feeling the gentle bathing of my dry skin, smelling the freshness in the air. My walk in the rain was a moment devoid of thoughts and plans or worries and I was enormously happy. It was simply a walk, one step at a time.
What is the best way to know ourselves? Is it through the thoughts, plans, and striving to make things happen, or is it through the various moments of presence like that rainy afternoon after my lunch of a perfect ham and cheese sandwich and a glass of rose? I believe the happiness comes from allowing our hardworking brains to take a rest from trying to orchestrate and fix us. It is then that we can see who we really are.
Endowed with this clarity, and peace, we can go forth and make choices about how to participate in the vast number of challenges surrounding us.
To my readers:
I am going forth tomorrow for a ten day holiday in one of my favorite cities in the world: New York. I will be walking the snowy streets, visiting museums, theaters, and eateries, and will return to San Francisco hopefully refreshed to pick up my blog writing.