My friend (let's call her Lucy) was having a tough time managing work and home life. Prior professional failures, present money challenges, and varying future goals from her spouse occupied her thoughts while she was at work and when she returned home. She followed trains of thought as they travelled ever onward, and she just couldn't seem to unlock a creative solution that she knew was just an idea away. She wasn't paying as much attention to her spouse as she’d like, and she wasn't experiencing as much effectiveness at work or at home as she knows she’s capable of.
And she was stressed - not terribly, not unmanageably, but certainly uncomfortably.
This description may fit many of us. Consistent and uncomfortable levels of stress, varying levels of resignation, and cynicism in place of hope. Yet we’re all doing well enough, and we’re all doing the best we can given the circumstances of life. It’s the human condition to experience struggle, learn to accept our limitations, and find happiness and fulfillment in only those occasional moments. Right?
Lucy and I took a break from talking to share in a brief, 4-minute meditation. This meditation (similar to the one at the end of this post) is a way of checking in with our physiology as well as our thinking, and it tends to have a calming effect on at least some of our anxious or stressed feelings. We both felt more relaxed afterward, and she said it felt good and that she needs to do that more often. She realized how preoccupied - how un-present - she had been, and she said she wants to be more present.
But present to what?
You see, we are always and only ever present. There’s actually no other time for us to be except in this moment, present. So it’s not that we want to be more present; it’s that we want to be present to more than our own thinking.
Our breath is always with us, our hearts continue beating, and we can slide our awareness within and over every square inch of our body without even moving a muscle. Often by exploring this always-available aspect of our existence, our physical sense, we find ourselves more grounded than our thinking can likely allow on its own.
Instead of thinking our way through uncomfortable or undesired feelings, what if we instead feel our way through those feelings to greater clarity and peace of mind? Lucy, for instance, didn't need to figure life out in order to relax; she needed to relax and give creative thinking room to arise.
When we get present to more than just our own thinking, our breathing slows, our stress begins to dissipate, and we enjoy life a bit more. This calmer, more open feeling is an expansion of our awareness; in that space our creativity awakens, inner wisdom can be heard more clearly, and we realize there's nowhere else we need to get.
I could tell Lucy was now ready to hear the really good news, especially in the face of so much that she’s felt she’s had to manage lately: all we ever need to do is relax, settle into our own feeling of well-being, and we'll more effectively handle anything that comes up.
I know, I know. It's never helpful to be told, usually with annoyance, to "Relax!!" But what if that's exactly what we could do in those situations to unlock insight, ease, and love?
If you’re interested in spending time with me this summer to explore and access your own innate capacity for peace of mind, enjoyment, and effectiveness, consider registering for one of the two programs that I'm super excited to be offering:
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️
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