How About a Big Dose of What’s Happening Right Now?

Against the wind

A lot of emphasis is being placed on being present and “living in the moment,” but many teachers on this subject forget to include the moments that suck.  The moments where anger, pain, agitation, confusion (etc.) arise, or when we’re staring at the back of a garbage truck, sitting in endless traffic at a stoplight.  What about those moments?  I mean, it’s not all field’s of daisies and strolls along the beach.  I think we live in a society where we want to forget the monotony and try to make rainbows out of tears, but what if the tears are just as significant as the blissful smiles?  What if the garbage truck in front of you was just as sacred as the sunset, not because you’re delusional, but because it is there and real, and it has an odor that you can clearly smell?  What if everything you touched, tasted, saw, heard, smelled and felt was equal, instead of there being levels of appreciation for one thing or the other based on your judgement of their significance in your life?

We used to sit in weekly groups for after-care treatment when we had completed our six rigorous in-house months of rehab.  The counselor would ask what was going on with us, and most of us would talk out of our ass about the week we’d had, but she would stop us from rambling.  “No, I don’t want to hear about three days ago.  I want to know what’s going on right now?”  Usually when I shared about my week, I would try to include some intelligent insight that I had received about some mediocre experience I had, but all I got were eyes rolling and a diminished ego.  “What’s happening for you RIGHT NOW?”  She would bring me back to focus.  I should have said, “I’m annoyed and I hate this group because it cuts into my Sunday evenings…”  That would have been honest.  That’s what she was grappling for anyway, but I was still in my head at the time, trying to pull unicorns out of my boring, purgatorious weeks.  My life was incredibly insignificant (so it felt), therefore I had to search for something profound.  Right now I was sitting in a chair, dreading that moment.  I didn’t like that group at all.  It was a stupid end to my weekend.  The funny thing was, I was practicing “living in the moment,” but there were moments that I didn’t like at all.  The one thing I wasn’t experiencing, however, were my feelings.  I was still deeply identified with my thoughts.  If I had “felt” myself in that moment, I would have had a lot more of an experience in that stupid group.  I would have felt annoyance roll through my body, and fear.  I would have probably felt some anger and maybe a little bit of joy afterward for having tapped into that emotional part of myself for once.  Instead, I was where I had always been for my entire life – wanting something different – something better than this arrangement of chairs in a circle, facing people that I was tired of seeing each week.  I wanted depths and rivers, shores and blue skies, oceans and fairy-fucking-tales.  (I don’t know – I’m just saying.)

When I was a little kid hanging out with my church peers, we would fantasize about heaven, and what it would be like to be out of this confining body with all these “negative” experiences.  Grief, stress, sorrow, annoyance, etc., but what if we specifically came to this plain of existence to have these experiences?  To know ourselves better?  To touch the face of God (if you believe in such a thing) by recognizing God in all things – not just some things?  What if instead of having an experience of the physical world around us, we began having an emotional experience each moment (i.e., what am I feeling, how am I processing, what is coming up for me right now?).  Last night I was having a bad reaction to a situation, and for a few minutes I sat there still in my own annoyance.  I really FELT it, and let it move through me.  It was strong and kind of maddening.  I wanted to have an outer reaction, and I did for a few seconds, but then I came back to myself and paid close attention to what was going on with me “right now.”  It wasn’t comfortable, but it was dynamic.  I mean, the emotion was strong, and alive.  It was like something moving around in me.  Instead of hating on how I felt right then, I embraced it.  I wasn’t looking for an out from the discomfort.  I wasn’t hoping for the next moment which may have been a little more blissful.  I just hung out in my own irritation.  Just hours prior, I had been sitting on a beach watching whales, but I understood right then that neither experience was more important than the other.  When I was with the whales, it was right now, and while I was having a moment of irritation, it was right now.  Right now I am typing.  Right now I’m not thinking about feeling any different than how I’m feeling right this second.  I’m learning that each moment has power because truly, it’s all there is.

Being in the moment doesn’t just include seeing what’s right in front of you.  It totally includes embracing the emotional experience you’re having regardless of how uncomfortable it is.  “What is happening for you right now?”  Our counselor used to ask us this all the time.  It wasn’t until I got out of treatment and had an encounter with my bitchy co-worker, where I began feeling my own inner reaction to her snarky remarks, instead of responding to her directly.  She mirrored me enough to bring up some emotions within me.  That was pretty cool to experience without reacting.  I was in a whole new dimension of my existence – feeling life from deep within myself.  “What’s happening for you right now?”  I’m feeling frustration and it’s alive within my body, squirming around in there like a hungry serpent, bidding me to react.  

We’ve been taught to live the opposite way – from the mind to the projection of physical reality, but the yogis and monks would say that this is a shallow place to live.  Once you get down into your own body and feel what’s going on for you, the physical world becomes like a looking glass into your own body, which is an entire universe.  Life becomes more dynamic, and the more you sit through uncomfortable emotions, the more beautiful physical reality appears.  You begin seeing all things as equal, and joy expands within you because you’re paying more attention to the inner world, than to the outer (which is always a mirror reflecting your emotional body).

Yesterday on the beach, I was walking against the wind for a time.  It was uncomfortable, and tiring too.  I thought, “I’m experiencing some resistance in my life.  I’m not liking this wind at all.  What else am I resisting?”  That’s a really good question.  I’m going to reflect on that today.  Meditate with this inner resistance of mine.  Let it be with me like a buddy hanging out in my emotional house.

Living in the moment has more to do with being present with your emotions, than it does being ok with driving behind a garbage truck.  Does the garbage truck bring up some emotions for you?  That’s where the focus should be.  Does a loved one piss you off?  Sit with that anger (rather than reacting).  Because once you find yourself not having strong emotional reactions, the now (no matter what that now entails) becomes a constant experience of joy.  That’s the place we’re moving toward if we are practicing “living in the moment.”

The Responsibility of Being Human

Responisbility

The very moment I woke up and realized that I was completely responsible for my life (not Jesus, not God, not my parents, etc…) I was thirty-eight freaking years old.  Kind of an old bag by then, to have understood such a simple concept about being alive on this planet.  I don’t know why it hit me so hard at that time.  Most likely it was my gay Atheist roommate who made no excuses for any of her problems.  She was mature, responsible and incredibly whole in herself.  She was also dynamically present, which was quite noticeable, because most people are not.  Most people have a million things going through their heads and they get dragged around by those thoughts like they are some sort of puppet being held hostage by their thinking process.  My roommate was all up in the now, without having even read an Eckhardt Tolle book, or having God as a crutch in her life.  She was like, this is my one chance as a human being and I’m going to give it my all.  I am going to be who I am and do my best while I am here.  If I make mistakes, I’m going to clean up my mess.  I don’t have time for nonsense or bullshit.  This is it.

Although I don’t share her belief about this being the only chance I get to do it right, I certainly had a big shift (wake up call) while I lived with her.  I was standing in the mirror, cleaning my dresser when it hit me.  This was right after a dream I had where I stood in the mirror.  Reflected back to me, was Christ in all his white light glory.  Incredible dream that I won’t get into right now (it was for me), but when you have a vivid dream about standing in the mirror and seeing Christ, let’s just say that it sort of has a profound impact.  In real life (after the dream), I was cleaning, and suddenly overcome with the notion that I had no excuses – that I was responsible.  Let me back up a little bit… Prior to the dream, I had lived with the belief that Jesus was going to be coming back someday soon to remove me and all the other “believers” from the messed up planet.  Because of this belief, I was lackadaisical about being here.  It was always in the back of my mind (you see) that I was entitled to not worrying about the planet because God was going to destroy it anyway.  OMG I could go back and slap myself across the room for being so ignorant back then.

The moment I stood there with my dusting cloth, and as I looked into the mirror – what I saw for the first time ever was a perfectly capable human being who had no excuses but to be responsible for myself.  I even considered the fact that Jesus may not be coming back in the literal sense of the interpretation of the Bible.  I mean, I had grown up with this image in my mind of a trumpet blowing and Jesus appearing in a cloud.  He was going to scoop up all his people and whisk them away before things got really bad here, but the thing is – things are really bad here now, and I stopped blaming Satan a long time ago.  People are assholes – selfish, greedy, and lacking a sense of personal responsibility to their surroundings.  I was one of those people to some degree.  My excuse was never really Satan (once I became an adult), but it was my addiction, and some of the trauma I endured.  My excuse was always that I had an out at some point when Jesus came back in those clouds for me, but then it hit me that my roommate didn’t have the Jesus excuse, and also that dream was so powerful – basically placing me in a state of knowing that right here, right now is all we have.  I am what I am always seeking.  There is no separation of “when Jesus comes” and right this very second (which is all there ever is).  So all that future grandiose thinking on my part, was a hoax – a trap really, to keep me in a state of yearning.  It was the very component that makes up suffering.

We suffer because we long to be out of this moment.  We long to be removed from our pain.  We suffer because we don’t accept what is, right now.  We want something other than what we are feeling, what is occurring, how the moment is unfolding, etc, but the entitlement we uphold, is that someone is going to come along and save us from it.  That’s a lie.  That’s a big, fat fricken lie.  I recall the moment I looked in the mirror and thought, “I’m the one who has to save myself.”  Shock.  Desolation.  Fear.  Terror.  All of these awful feelings seized my heart, but that’s exactly when I knew that I had been completely irresponsible (and delusional) for myself and for my own life.  If I was afraid to take complete responsibility for myself, then (so help me God), I hadn’t been responsible for myself for thirty-eight years.  I had been waiting for a pie in the sky savior.  I know without doubt, that the savior is never apart from me.

That year, I stop daydreaming about a future Earth and began being present for the earth that was my own human body, which is the only thing I have control over.  I became aware of what I was doing, how I was acting, what I was putting in my mouth, what was coming out of my mouth, and how I responded to the world around me.  Other people became more important than my hair (and make-up).  I finally realized that this was it.  Perhaps I will have another chance to get it right in another lifetime, but all I ever have is right now – right this moment, and right this moment, all I have control over is me.  So dammit, I’m going to give it my all while I’m here.  I may mess up at times.  I may forget once in a while.  I may have bouts of anger or days of pain, but those moments belong to me and I’m going to embrace them.  I DO embrace them.  I certainly do.  I have a fire burning in me like never before – a passion for life – an inner power that burns with the moment.  I’m excited to be alive, and open to making a difference, but the difference I’m making isn’t that I am trying to change everyone else.  I’m simply changing me to be the world I want to see (thanks Gandhi).  I have a deeper love for my environment, the people around me, and also for myself.  That moment when I woke up and decided to take responsibility for my life was scary, but since then, my life has been a series of small miracles (some bigger than others).  Because I have a grip on reality now, I understand that I am creating it as I go along.  That sense of wonder is stronger than ever, and I’m no longer pining for someone to come along and change it up.  If I want change, I know (for a fact) that it begins with me.  And in the profound words of someone else (I don’t know who said this)… “We are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS,” meaning, stop trying to DO something, and start BEING someone while you’re here.

People Fear What They Do Not Know

tarot

While I was growing up in the shadow of religion, I recall being told that things like the Tarot were evil and that they were a doorway for negative spirits.  I was interested in the Tarot, however – drawn to it by curiosity, but I stayed away out of fear because I did not want to be followed by demons, or whatever it was that was going to happen to me if I allowed someone to read my cards.  As I became older, I began following my curiosity, and had a few readings done.  Some of them were interesting, while others were a little airy fairy.  If people tell you they can read your future, they are probably a little “out there,” but I was discerning when I was young, and now.  The cards can be “off-putting” if you don’t know what they mean, and also, I was never aware of anything other than what I was taught, so for me to go way out beyond the limitations of my beliefs, was considered a bit like being a lost sheep.  What I know now from my “straying” is that I was doing exactly what we should all be doing… following our gut (intuition) instead of listening to outside banter.  Once you have information from doing your own research, you discover that either something you feared is completely harmless, or you realize (on your own) that it is to be avoided.  We all have an inner compass leading the way for us.  If I would have bought into the fear about the cards, I would have been ignoring my intuition which drew me to them.

About two years ago I dated someone who was very Tarot oriented, which was interesting to me because I had always been fascinated, but never took the time to learn what the cards meant, or from where they derived (no one knows, btw), but just like a deck of playing cards, they are genius.  Without getting into the different symbols and what they mean, the actual readings themselves are a bit like reading poetry of a person’s moment and time.  The Tarot is nothing more than a tool used to guide people back to themselves.  Now that I have been learning more about the Tarot and doing readings myself, I have discovered that many people are curious, but have been told the same thing that I have about them being evil.  The cards themselves are not evil, but a person can be.  So of course be aware of the person behind the cards.  Some people make money reading Tarot.  I would rather sit at a farmers market or something and read for people without taking their money, just to give them some intuitive guidance with the assistance of the cards, which merely depict facets of the human experience and archetypes (or roles) we play out as we move through our lives.  I’m not saying that making money reading Tarot is wrong, but I enjoy the art of the Tarot, and how a reading can help someone without me benefiting or taking something away from the person for whom I’m reading.  The Tarot is a gift, and now that I have learned about our subconscious minds and how we resonate with symbols on an emotional and spiritual level, I see the cards as a breakthrough into a person’s deepest part of themselves.

I have read the Tarot for many friends and family members, and they walk away from my readings with a broader sense of clarity.  Sometimes people text me and ask me to read for them because they are facing adversity and they need some clarity.  Honestly, because I have learned to tap into my own intuition and can read people just as well as I can read the symbols of the cards, I do not necessarily need the Tarot to give advice or direction, but they are a valuable tool, and I love the art of the Tarot.  The more readings I do, the more I resonate with the cards I’m using.  I love art in any form, and this is what the Tarot has become to me – a form of art.  I’ve had some beautiful readings done for me that have been beneficial in helping me let go of negativity and move with the flow of my life.  In a society that is so weighed down with noise, chaos and focused on material, tools like the Tarot bring people back to the undercurrent of themselves so they can understand what’s really going on.  Because everything in life is so innately connected, and we influence the outcome of our experience by how we think and by what we are feeling, the cards easily reflect the person asking a question.  There is no “magic” in the cards (although there is magic in the universe).  The magic is that we, as human beings, influence the cards by attracting them to tell us what we are asking of them.  It’s a science really, and nothing more.  If you’ve learned anything about the law of attraction, you realize that we create our own life experience.  The Tarot is amazing for bring a person right back to how they think, what they are feeling, and the way they are navigating in their lives.  There is nothing scary about that.

We fear what we do not know.  There was a time when I was afraid of religions like Buddhism because I was told it was evil, but when I did my own research, I realized that Buddhism wasn’t a religion at all, but a wonderful and beautiful lifestyle that had more to do with nature than some idolized character sitting in the lotus position.  Of course, people do worship the Buddha (which he would have never wanted), just like people use the Tarot to “fortune tell.”  Man is always twisting things up and creating weirdness out of very basic stuff.  Tarot to me is poetry.  Tarot to someone else can be something else.  Don’t be confused about the various arts and religions out there.  Discover for yourself what they mean to you and go from there.  There is nothing wrong with following your curiosity.  People are freaking crazy, but usually what they are into is nothing more than a guidance system of some sort, created for the purpose of bringing people back to themselves, where the answers all are anyway.  We are the walking talking version of our source.

If I was on a deserted island with nothing but my gut and my voice, I would have to listen to my intuition, which is the place we should all be tapping into, regardless of our circumstances.  We have an internal source of wisdom right in our own bodies.  Forever, we have used tools to remind us to go within, including the Bible, the Torah, etc.  People write them – we read them to help us remain on track emotionally, spiritually and mentally.  The Tarot is nothing more than one of these tools, although instead of words, it uses symbols.  Someone who has the wrong intentions can read the Bible in an evil way, just like someone who gets behind the Tarot and says they can read fortunes, is probably not the right person to do a reading for you.  Listen to your gut and go from there.  That’s all I’m saying, but don’t shun something merely because you’ve been misinformed.  Discover life for yourself and make your own decisions.  People judge when they are not informed.  I used to do this too, but now I am open to learning about something before I go and judge it.  It’s always the person behind the thing I’m looking into that I need to worry about – not the book or the cards themselves. People who have used the Bible to control the masses are more evil (in my book) than some kook behind a deck of Tarot cards. Lets get real. I mean, there is wisdom in every single element of life… not just one source of truth. There is a lot of ancient wisdom in the Tarot, and there is a lot of Astrology in the Bible (and numerology, although most people overlook this), but in the wrong hands, many tools we use can be used for evil rather than for good. Just like sex can be both life-giving and also destructive, there are two sides to every coin.