Recently, I was walking around outside on a sunshiny and windy afternoon. The sky was ominous, but the sun was shining and the wet ground mushed beneath my rubber boots. The backdrop of the vast shoreline of North Shore Maui and the endless ocean was both calming and expansive. I noticed this, and let it in. I felt myself relax and feel grateful. I noticed my husband holding my son under a fruit tree sharing a magic-full moment of laughter and love. So much joy swelled my heart and I had an encounter with full acceptance and gratitude. There is so much peace when I accept the present moment, just as it is. What a gift!
Lately, I have observed myself moving quickly through my day, from one task to the next, filling every single moment with something. I slurp down coffee while bouncing around from washing machine, to sink, to kitchen, singing fun, little ditties all the while I keep up with my busy toddler who succeeds at getting me outside on the earth every chance he gets.
However, without realizing it, I have l actually stopped living in the present moment :::right now::: and instead have become distracted by what's next. The illusory responsibility to "get it all done," is a never-ending path that has kept me busy enough that I have forgotten to simply live present to the moment unfolding around me. Over time this has become such a burden. I feel the weight of unmoved energy held in tight, unstretched muscles. How did this happen? The same woman who once rose before dawn every morning, dedicated to my kundalini kriya is now stiffly running around in a caffeinated blur. I remember a life in the jungle by the ocean fasting on coconuts, dedicated to my yoga practice, committed to my meditation. And yet, even then, was I upholding the highest spiritual practice of being present? Maybe not.
And how has this unconscious habit manifested into my life? Short temper, loss of patience, tension held in my body, bare-minimum nutrition, the list goes on. I dare to say that many people are existing at this level of consciousness and for me, it is simply not serving me, my son, my family, or my dreams.
Alas! Life has a whimsical way of showing us how to do our work. It was through a yucky and hard dialog with my husband that I finally saw a vulnerable part of me that was clinging to an old story and playing a victim. The same part of me that has persevered through the years of unsatisfying relationships, less-than-perfect jobs, and an undertone of unworthiness woven through it all. While I defended my argument with Pat, and he sat quietly holding space, I felt my emotions so strongly. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I desperately attempted to make him feel my hurt. Instead he gently pointed out to me that my suffering was coming from a place within me that was not present. A place that is stuck in the past or the future. His simple words of advice :::Let Go::: breathed cool, refreshing life into a rigid and stagnant place within me. I resisted at first, trust me. There really was part of me that felt STUCK in the moment of pain I was choosing to re-live and re-live. I was determined to be right. I walked away from the interaction committed to my story, scooped up my sleepy son, and began the nightly ritual of bouncing on the yoga ball as he suckles himself to sleep. As I allowed the rhythmic bouncing to relax my body I heard those words again :::Let Go::: I chose to find my breath. I felt instantly relieved of the weight of anything as I became present to the peace and calm around me. A moment of doubt, "can it really be this easy?" I kept bouncing, keeping my focus on my breath and the weightless feeling of presence. I realized here, in this moment, there was no conflict or tension. I didn't have to stay mad, I didn't have to be right, I didn't have to prove anything. I could feel it all, and let it go.
This is a gift that keeps giving. A practice that continues to deepen and strengthen. When I find myself (a million times a day) distracted by doing and instead of being, I now have access to the tools and experience of returning, of lifting the veil, clearing my lens, and seeing the absolute beauty and perfection my reality. Not because the dishes are washed and put away, or the laundry is finished , but because I accept what is and I accept myself. Right now. I know that what exists beyond the thin veil of illusion is a paradise.
The best part of this story is that this awakening and remembering did not come from a quiet retreat in the woods, or a pilgrimage to see a guru. It was born out of the desire to be a good mother. To be present for my son in a healthy and balanced way. Once again I return to the spiritual art that is being a Mother. An art with no finished product, but one that takes a new shape each day. Boundless opportunities to practice returning to the to the state of presence again and again. Besides, staying busy is only a distraction for actually accomplishing anything. The real work happens when we stop, breath, and take it in. Whatever it is. Full acceptance of our present reality is a liberating gift we all deserve and desperately need.