Thursday, January 31, 2013

Staying in the Moment

"What is my attraction to leaving the present moment?" I was asked recently. "This is what I want to explore in depth with someone," the same person said. My immediate thought is somewhat the about exploring what keeps me returning to the present moment?

It does not take much. Simply taking a small peek at the world around me and giving a breath of attention to it. The frost on the lawn, the cry of a hawk. The feel of a cats paw on my arm as I write and he purrs. All of this grounds me here, now.

Last year I had a near death experience. My best friend did as well. We were laid low for long months. Painful slow recovery. Agonizing struggle with emotions. Lack of appetite. Inability to be who we once were. Uncertainty about who we would be should we emerge on the other side of the darkness.

Oddly it was submission to the present moment, however painful, which kept me from insanity. When the pain became huge one dear friend told me to stay with myself and breathe. To allow myself to feel beneath what the obvious pain was and into the deeper issue. Most often it was fear. That I would not recover. That I would never have joy again. Fear about the permanent loss of zest for life, friends, any passion for anything. Fear that I was letting go of life and that life was going on without me. The paradox of allowing myself to sit with myself in the fear without pushing any of it away was a return, very gradually, of love. Little by little things lightened up by miniscule steps. Slowly the balance shifted.

Important to the staying present was simply feeling, releasing my mind from having to tell a story about what was happening, to let go of grasping to understand or explain. I gave my brain permission to not know. Often I would find tears streaming out of me and at those moments just stopping to sit and literally wrap my arms around myself and stay with it was soothing. The NDE facilitated the release of so much I did not know was no longer serving me. After the pain came the deep disorientation of having lost my way. Sitting with this, in the moment, was not fun. But the more I let it be OK the easier it became to rest in the unknown. Next came boredom. The time when I memorized the treeline, the couch molded to my body and I waited for strength to return. Through all of this I found out how to live in the deep peace that exists underneath all the chaos of life.

My best friend discovered a most important tip which pointed both of us into joy. Noticing the tiniest beauty, now. Letting myself rest in it. It was her gift of insight which led us both out of the depths of darkness and back to the light. Bit by bit those small recognitions of beauty have grown.

On the other side of the year which shattered me I am able to say that no one moment is better than another. No preference. The gift is learning to simply stay in now, stay with myself, no matter what. A fundamental element of loving myself, staying present to myself. And now...I can stay present to others as well...because I know how to do this for me.

And as my mother would say..progress, not perfection!

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