I made this sign to hang in my livingroom to remind me of one of the lessons I am learning, particularly from my meditation practice, about being present. ‘Being present ‘ seems like such a simple concept but I have found the need to practice it because we live in an era of distractions and avoidance. It is infinitely easier to stay present in a happy moment than a difficult one but if I let them, distractions will even take me away from the moments I treasure most. The difficult moments are the ones I really want to escape and I have become a master of avoidance in order to do so.
Clearly, I do not want to spend any time whatsoever in uncomfortable, sad or painful moments if I can avoid them. Why would I? So I resist these moments, pushing away negative feelings and then I escape by hoping for something better in the future but this hope seems to be quickly swallowed up by fear. Sometimes even a happy moment can be overshadowed by this same fear of what may or may not happen in the future. I become trapped in this terrible spiral of hope and fear so far away from the present moment.
In The Place Beyond Hope and Fear, Margaret Wheatley writes “Contrary to our belief that hope and fear are opposites where one trumps the other, they are a single package, bundled together as intimate, eternal partners. Hope never enters a room without fear at its side… You can’t have one without the other.” So does that mean we must give up hope in order to get away from fear?
I’ve been struggling with the concept of hope for a long time now so I was almost relieved to read “abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of a beginning.” in Pema Chodran’s book ‘When Things Fall Apart’. She goes on to say “Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, to make friends with yourself, not to run away from yourself … giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship.” It comes down to accepting, being at peace with, where I’m at right now rather than trying to wish it away.
I’ve been going through some grit lately and have so many emotions connected to this experience ~ sadness, anger, frustration, fear. I’ve been working overtime at distracting myself but I can’t help but wonder
What if accepted this moment exactly as it is?
What if I allowed myself to feel the broad spectrum of emotions and just stay there … breathe into it. Pema’s book talks about the importance of allowing ourselves to feel pain “When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armor, armor that imprisons the softness of the heart… When we breathe in pain, somehow it penetrates that armor… a kindness and tenderness begin to emerge. When we breathe out relief and spaciousness, we are also encouraging the armor to dissolve.” I had a big ‘aha’ moment when reading this in realizing that this armor, intended for protection, actually imprisons us. If we are not confined in the past or the future by hope and fear then we are free to be in the present, where we are meant to be.
So I’ve decided to liberate myself from hope and fear and work hard to be present in this moment … whatever this moment brings.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. – Buddha