The coming of a full moon pulls me into the depths of despair. I sense the darkness closing in around me, heavy and cold. Dark rain clouds gather and rumble. The storm has arrived. I sit in a state of awareness.
I have struggled all my adult life with moments like these, engulfed in sadness or anxiety, with no apparent cause. My spiritual work has helped me to see that such moods are fleeting. “This too shall pass,” I tell myself – and within a day or two the darkness lifts and the light returns to my life.
It is through the practice of “Awareness”, also called mindfulness or presence, that I have come to learn how best to cope with my feelings and moods. “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear -are caused by too much future and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness, are caused by too much past and not enough presence.” says Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now.
My feelings of anxiety and despair come from a propensity to spend too much time focused in the future. I’m a planner –often a neurotic planner. My awareness of this tendency helps me to gain perspective. Don’t get me wrong, planning is important, but to be done well, it must be done from a state of awareness – anchored in the present moment. My mind’s compulsion is to imagine all the possible things that could go wrong and play them out in great detail, rather than simply acknowledge the possibilities and plan with contingencies. No, that’s too easy – and where is the drama in that, my mind says. Have you ever noticed how attached we are to drama in this human experience? More to come on that in future posts.
Learning to live in a state of awareness, in the present moment, takes practice. When I focus my attention into the present moment, completely aware, I find peace, a calmness envelops me, time falls away. I see and accept my feelings from a place of awareness.
I am often asked if being in a state of awareness mean you take no action. No, that is not always the case. But if you can catch yourself, bring yourself to a state of awareness, it is from that inward dwelling place that you will know if action is appropriate – right action. Often, no action is required. Our tendency is to react, to respond without awareness to the jerk who just cut us off on the freeway. This is why I say it takes practice – you have to stop yourself, breathe, pull back into your seat of consciousness and then, if action is appropriate, it will flow from you naturally.
Practice awareness, mindfulness – be present in the only moment you ever have power – right here, right now.