So I went to church yesterday. And no I am not going to force any dogma down your throat so let that anxiety subside and just keep reading here... you might get something from it. Because I work on Sundays, I alter my schedule to make it to a Sunday mass about once a month. What's fascinating to me is that somehow, whatever random Sunday I am able to make it there in any given month, somehow the homily always seems incredibly applicable to whatever is going on at the time. I am aware that this is partially because it is human tendency to interpret anything that we experience in a way that reflects our current experience -- meaning we read into everything external whatever we can manage to conjure from our present internal realities. We create the meaning in everything we experience, and being as we are usually looking through our own eyes, we generally relate that meaning to our own circumstance. However, sometimes that takes greater effort than others, and when everything seems to line up rather easily, it seems rather serendipitous.
The homily yesterday was about Being Present, and anyone who knows me, knows this a big focus of mine. However, in the past week or so I've been feeling kind of conflicted about it, so this seemed like the perfect time to hear someone else speak on the subject. I've been asking myself to reexamine what being present means. I thought I knew. I thought that being present meant being completely aware and fully in experience of the moment at hand. I know that future and past are things that only exist in the conscious mind... they are constructs of our brain. We cannot actually be in the past or the future, but for some reason our brains spend a lot of time there while we run sort of on autopilot... and in the time that our focus is diverted to past or present or anywhere else that isn't right here, we miss the experience of the NOW. We are not fully experiencing the grace of the moment. And in reality... the ONLY MOMENT IS NOW.
In my life, I try to bring my consciousness into the present. I try to trust that each moment offers an opportunity for experience and growth and I try to embrace that opportunity as it comes. However, lately I have been rather focused on goals. I have things that I want to accomplish and while I'm not particularly attached to any specific path of getting there, I want to keep moving forward. Goals require a certain amount of planning. On the one hand, I am excellent at checking things off and getting them done. I am a good planner. On the other hand, they don't always work out as expected and this requires a certain amount of adaptability in the moment (something that comes with presence). If we are too attached to the "plan", sometimes we miss better ways to move toward the intention. Goals are good and necessary. I mean, if we do not reach for a goal, we continue to stay where we are. Sometimes the goal ends up changing along the way and there is nothing wrong with that; we are moving, and growth is good. I highly value being present in the moment, but somehow it's been bothering me of late that this value slightly conflicts with the idea of goal setting and step taking. If I am too focused on the goal, I miss the present experience. If I am too focused on tomorrow, I forget to experience and learn from today. If I am continually fully present in the moment, I am not planning or considering what happens next. See how that conflicts? Perhaps I am overthinking it, but some days it is a difficult space to be in. Finding and trusting the balance is key.
Now is the place where we learn. Now is the place where we grow. Now is the place where we act. Now is the place where we create change. Now is the place where we interact. Now is the place where we effect the world and make our impact. Now is a powerful place! Successful people plan. They create goals and they identify steps to accomplish them, but they also remain open enough to adjust them along the way. They plan, they move, and most often, they adjust and plan again. They use the moment to ACT and there is power in that. But it's also important to recognize that sometimes if we are too focused on the intended action, we miss a greater opportunity. So be open, to anything the moment may offer, even if it isn't a part of your plan.
I thought it funny that the priest mentioned that we spend most of our lives on autopilot-- doing things automatically without experiencing the action. He is absolutely right. 95% of our day is governed by the subconscious. 95% of our day, our conscious brain is off in thought about yesterday or tomorrow or what-so-and-so said or what we have to get done, and during this time our subconscious is guiding whatever action the moment requires -- walking, eating, driving, any repetitious activities at work or at home. We don't apply conscious thought to these things. So even when we do set goals, only 5% of our time is spent consciously approaching them. In fact, it is in our subconscious that all the limitations and blockages to attaining them live. If only there was a way to align our subconscious with our conscious goals! *hint*hint*
According to the priest, being present in the moment means being fully present in the interactions we have with the people who are here with us right now. It's about being a reflection of love and light in this moment. I understand and accept that truth and especially in the lines of this business being present in my service is paramount. But I'm going to take it a step farther. I think that being present in the moment also involves tapping into what we can learn and how we can grow in this moment. To be truely present in the moment, I think we have to be observant of the unique opportunity each moment brings and be consciously open to it. Yes we drive automatically, but we pass or possibly hear a lot of things on our way. My idea of being present in a drive means noticing what is going on around me and allowing it to speak. Instead of thinking about tomorrow, try being conscious of what is happening right now, even if you're not focused on the actual act of steering, there's always something to take in. Maybe you are visual and like to learn from the sights like me, or maybe you prefer to learn from whatever you choose to listen to on your way. Feel what there is to feel, see what there is to see, hear what there is to hear, smell what there is to smell. Trust me, from experience I can say, sometimes a cow on the side of the road has a lot to say. Yesterday, a goose taught me that if I waste my focus worrying about what might melt by the end of the day, I may miss my chance to skate on the ice. Fearlessly siezing the opportunity of the moment, that's what that goose was doing, and that is what I am talking about here. In this moment, the rhythm of the world around me with the fish tank bubbling and the truck outside rumbling and my daughter's naptime sighs from across the room, moves me to write. And perhaps this is my best reflection of love and light in the Now. I am going to trust that intuition. In another moment, I may be moved to action. In yet another moment, I may find it best to absorb and learn. I am going to commit myself to be open to joy and experience in any moment, and to let go of any attachment to what I may have had planned for that moment. Yes, I am still setting goals and yes, I have considered what it takes to attain them, and I am committed to getting there and I will follow through. In short, when the lake is frozen, I won't hesitate to skate on the ice. In a moment that serves action, action will be taken. However, I am also open to anything else that may unfold along the way. And I am going to recognize that honoring myself and my values and my purpose in some moments, may require patience or stillness as well.
"Grace," said the priest, "is in the moment." And that, my friend, comes in a variety of forms. Let's not restrict ourselves to accepting only some of them... let's open ourselves to receive whatever may come. Let's continue to ask ourselves, "How can I grow in this moment, from what the world is offering me right now?" Let's be present enough to accept what the moment offers whether that be an interaction, a lesson, an opportunity to act, a chance to have a little fun, even a negative experience, what may seem like a detrimental loss, or even just a cow on the side of the road or a goose skating on the ice... Let's accept and grow from all that each moment has to offer, continually blossoming into the next.