Thoughts While Night Descends

In the stillness of night, I think of the earth as a whole and that the night shrouding me is only part of the story. I know that as I lay here listening to the songs of crickets and frogs breaking the stillness of this night, light shines on the other air of this rock where billions of people are engaged in their daily activity; people for whom the thought of nighttime and slumber are impossible to conjure while the sun shines.

What a strange thought and yet comforting too. No matter what, we’re doing something; someone somewhere is keeping this world turning for us. The story continues while we take our much needed nocturnal break. 

Advertisements

In Stillness, the Silent Voice Speaks

Meditation is an amazing thing if not only for its simplicity. I often taken unintentional hiatuses from my meditation practice for a myriad of reasons but when I return to the practice, I always find myself in awe of what meditation is able to show me.

Lately, it has been that my mind is highly active and engaged. That my body responds to stimuli with tension and anxiety that I may otherwise completely ignore. Yesterday morning, I felt myself beginning to struggle with keeping focused on my breath. Then, as those who meditate can appreciate, the struggle to stay focused because a thing itself. So I just sat and witnessed the noise as someone who would sit on the edge of the shoreline and watch waves crashing against the sand. I wasn’t seeking a diversion from them; rather, I sought an immersion in then and, in so doing, a way through them.

When we are in our everyday unconscious states, our bodies are dealing with more than we may ever know in complete and utter silence. All of this stimuli around us and within us simply asking to be acknowledged and shown the radiant light of freedom. But how can we free that which we do not know lies in bondage?

Meditation helps to uncover and expose those aspects of our whole person that may fly under that proverbial radar. We can get to the core of who and what we are. We can allow breath to flow into those darkened caverns and recesses within us and be totally exposed and completely open to the healing that comes from being absolutely present.

flowers-background-1363001664GUm

When Desires Don’t Manifest

While desires can be problematic, we all have them. Some have more than others and some have been able to control theirs better. But they’re there; those things we wish would come to pass or those possessions we wish we had. It’s an almost impossible task to remove all desire from our lives. But we also know that clinging is the root of suffering. And one way this clinging presents itself is expectation

Nobody can predict the future. It will happen as it happens. And while we may be able to condition the future to a certain extent based on how we live in the present, it’s by and large something that remains far beyond our control. This, of course, doesn’t stop us from wanting to control it though; shape it into exactly what we envision. And our expectation is that it will (or should) manifest exactly as we expected. 

Surprise is something that you can either tolerate or not. We hear people all the time professing “I don’t like surprises,” or “I don’t want to be caught off guard.” Everything is a surprise though, to a point. I lay here writing this at 8am knowing that the only thing I truly know about today is that I know nothing about it. Any number of things might happen today that I could never predict. So, knowing that, I consciously hand myself over to the abiding spirit of wonder; the state of being whereby I have given life the freedom to unfold before me. 

Positive or negative, painful or blissful, phenomena will happen whether we seek to control it or not. The only thing we can do when expectation and the need to control arises is to release; to acknowledge that we are planted and rooted in this moment and that this moment will begin to evolve when it is ready and when it does we will still be present and mindful. Come what may.

This disappointment resulting from our desires being unmanifest will whither away when we embrace the truth that we had nothing to expect to begin with.

Complainers Needn’t Apply

This is one of the things I’ve wrestled with so much: on one hand, I was to withhold judgement from people and be accepting, but on the other hand, I really can’t deal with toxic people. What makes it even more of a conundrum is that toxic people, by and large, are the way they are because of things that have happened to them. 

But life is finite and we only have so much time left on this planet. Should we allow toxic people into our lives? As far as we can send them love and kindness, yes. Keeping them close at hand just because we feel bad for building distance: no


Complaining is the toxic person’s primary medium. Like an artist who uses clay or stone to sculpt or oil or watercolor to paint, the toxic person specializes in moaning laments. It is how they visualize the world around them and convey it to others. They have a deep and profound belief that the world is unfair and that they are at the short end of the proverbial stick in perpetuity. Complaining has an allure, though. Because when we are perpetually finding fault with things around us, we’re putting off addressing our own shortcomings and the other things we. We’d to work on within ourselves.

If you’ve spent much time around complainers, you’ll know how efficiently they can ruin everything. Just one complainer at a dinner or party can sour the entire occasion. The toxicity is infectious and viral. This is why you need to  be extraordinarily cautious. 

Don’t feel bad about keeping complainers at arms length…or further. Being a compassionate and accepting person doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to personalities that rob you of your joy. Even the most caring doctor takes precautions around patients who are highly infectious. How’s this any different?

Doing Nothing while Doing Everything

Do you ever look at the clock at night and wonder where the day went? It seems like it all went by in a flash and now you’re left with this empty feeling of having lost a day, it seems. All those hours, disintegrated and lost within the ether. The busier we are, the hectic our lives become, the more it seems that we lose out on savoring what we have in real-time. The commonly cited reason for this is: “I’ve just been so busy.”

Indeed, we’re working hard, longer and for less. We throw ourselves into what we do not because we necessarily enjoy it but because we fear that by not showing 120 percent commitment to everything, we’ll be judged as lazy and careless. But what’s the net result? People who allow themselves to become swamped by endless responsibilities don’t actually work any more efficiently than anyone else. And the saddest part to all of this is that the only person who realizes how much work you’ve been doing is you.

Soon, you’re left sitting on your couch exhausted at 10 pm thinking “it seems like it should be noon.” You’re living twice the life you should be, but not in a good way. The reason time seems to accelerate exponentially is because you’re doing too much. You’re packing the responsibilities of two or three people in the time frame allotted for one. Either you give those other two people names or you part ways with them.

Fact: you deserve to enjoy your life.

IMG_0167

Life ends. It is finite. We will all die. And every day is a day closer to that inevitability. You can’t live your days over, but you can begin to live your days more mindfully. By taking the time you need to enjoy what’s around you and what you encounter; by seeing the beauty and value in the seemingly insignificant things. If I were to ask you what flowers grow outside your office building, you probably couldn’t answer. Not many people could, so don’t feel bad. Why? We don’t associate work with flowers or birds or nature. We are one-track minded. And that’s okay. But we have to accept that being like that means that we miss out on what’s really important: the world and all of existence beckoning us to enjoy and savor it.

You don’t have to wait for New Years or next month or even the beginning of the week to start. You can do it right now.

Slow Down. Look Around. Breathe.

That’s all you need to do. It’s really that simple. The beauty of life is unfolding for you every second of every day of every month of every year. It’s your choice to see it or not. And, should you decide to see it, you’ll begin to realize that you’ve been spending a lot of time doing nothing; that what’s really meaningful, what will truly fill your days with purpose and joy, are all around you.

This Moment is Everything

How much time in your life have you spent worrying and ruminating about the future or the past? Not only is it hard not to do this but many of us think it’s actually responsible to. If there was a net benefit to worry, then it might not be such a bad thing. But worry produces nothing besides anxiety and more worry. It doesn’t help up prepare for anything because worry, in and of itself, is irrational. 


If we think we are going to do something tomorrow or know we have an appointment or anything else we have to attend to, we can plan for it while still knowing that the future doesn’t exist. It leaves open the likelihood that what tomorrow may bring cannot be what we conceive in our worried minds because if the future doesn’t exist, there’s nothing there.

Thousands of years ago, our primitive ancestors were always on the lookout for danger. Because danger would have been everywhere. Every rustle of a bush or sound breaking the silence of night was potentially a deadly animal waiting to kill them. Fast forward to today and here are, anxious about what may be; the many dangers lurking in that mysterious place called tomorrow. And perhaps being prepared, we think, mitigates the pain and misery resulting from that fear coming to fruition. 

Likewise, the past is immaterial as well. It isn’t what we think it is….or was. Because the further we move from the past, the less objective we can think about it. What’s left sometimes are just those raw emotions associated with experiences we endured. But the past is really over. We’ve moved on, except for when we haven’t allowed aspects of ourselves to.

The present moment, the here and now, is all there is. And it’s all there ever was. The sensory experience of being alive in this moment and existing in real time with what is creates a sense of peace and place. This is related to the concept of consciousness; the property of being that imbues the present. We cannot ruminate or worry about what we are experiencing because we are in the middle of it. We are unfolding as it is unfolding; evolving with everything around us. Meditation is of extraordinary help in keep ourselves grounded and in place.

Just a few minutes of sitting in silence, listening and feeling our bodies in real time, can begin to break down the need to worry and ruminate. It makes being conscious of this moment second nature. Worry will always happen to some extent because humans have been worrying for thousands of years. But we do have the power to step out of this toxic behavior by devoting our attention to NOW. 

The toxicity of ‘staying informed’

So much is happening in the news these days. Whether it’s one of Trump’s idiotic tweets, emerging news on healthcare, terrorism or social issues, we can easily become swept up in all of it. If we take a step back and look at the news, something becomes apparent: it’s not as confusing as it seems. What makes it so complicated is when people, usually those in the media, hash these issues over and over to a point where, instead of clarifying what’s happening, it becomes more convoluted. 

A week or so ago, I began feeling this crippling sense of despair and hopelessness. I began feeling cynical and distrustful of everything. My outlook on the future and my overall sense of optimism were under attack. When these symptoms were setting in, I decided to stop watching the 24 hour news cycle and checking in on all of the goings on through social media. While I didn’t know if being so “informed” was causing me that distress, something made me feel as though cutting the line to the maddening news cycle would settle me down a bit.


And…it did! As though I took a miracle pill, I began feeling so much better. My happiness came back, my optimism was manifest again and I found that I had more energy to devote to other things that brought me pleasure.

Now, before you criticize what I’ve said, let me be clear: it is good to be informed. It is responsible to know what’s happening and to be engaged. That said, it comes with a limit. The more you lose yourself in the toxic news cycle, the less time you spend within yourself, cultivating your own happiness and worth. News requires us to go out there into the cacophony but also provides us with little resource to ameliorate it and create clarity from it. So, it leaves us in an unsettled, frenzied state.

Years ago, people would read the morning paper and watch a half-hour news program at night. And even then, some thought that was information overload! 

So, let’s stay informed. Let’s address the things that are happening and be proactive about what we can do. But at the same time, let’s remember that we have lives to live and a world of abundant beauty around us to explore. We have love to ale and create. And each of us possesses nuance and value far beyond our political ideology. Let’s connect with one another. Let’s reduce the toxicity and start healing.