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Posts Tagged ‘present moment’

I’m getting ready to turn in, and I find myself struggling against the “Sunday night blues”. You know, that resistance to the weekend being over, knowing the next morning starts the workweek again?

Yes, I’ve had a great weekend, and no I don’t feel like getting up in the morning to go to work. But I didn’t feel like getting up this morning, either. I was able to sleep in a tiny bit, but it was when my son gets up and needed to be taken care of. I love spending time with my son, and adored having the morning together. If I don’t resent having to wake up before I feel like it on Sunday, how does it help to resent it Monday?

And really, how does it help to resent any present moment one finds oneself in? I’m generally pretty good about enjoying each day as best I can rather than “living for the weekend”, so I’m surprised at how much I’d rather have another Sunday tomorrow.

Regardless, Sunday or Monday, I’ll need to get up before I feel like it. So I may as well go relax into restfulness and have some sweet dreams.

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There were a few times today that I paused to bring my focus back to the just-as-it-is-ness of the moment I was in at the time.  Today, it’s not so much that there’s any one particular observation that’s all that noteworthy. Instead, I suppose what’s noteworthy is how very mundane it all is, once we get into the habit.

I mean, once we get into the habit of trying to take the present moment just as it is, being in-the-moment becomes very mundane. I sort of think that’s the point. After enlightenment, the laundry, eh?

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My moment of intentional zen today was while commuting to and from work. I tried to keep from slipping into the autopilot that is common with commuting, for a start. I then tried to slip out of the autopilot that is just part of daily life in general.

I watched the sky as it got brighter, appreciating the colors around me. I admired the trees, and breathed in the sunlight. I felt a deep appreciation for the world and life I enjoy, even if it does involve having to get up in the morning and commute in to work.

This appreciation helped me connect more fully to the start of my day. I figure, to be truly grateful, I need to begin with actively experiencing the gifts I’ve been given. Through this engagement with these gifts of life, I’m feeling more able to share them.

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Speaking of counting failure as a lesson in how better to succeed… Today I did a little better than I had in the recent past.

I was wrapping up the “end goal” of the big ginormous project that was instrumental in my breaking apart at the end of last year. Right as I was waiting for someone to get me the final paperwork to complete the package with minutes to spare before the deadline… Something else came up. Something instrumental. Something nobody had thought of prior to that moment.

The old ghosts started to pop  up, and I became EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS to resolve the issue as quickly and rightly as it needed. That was the extent of the strain, however. I claimed “stress”, but that was the word I could think of at the time for “pinpoint focus across a scatter-array of items to weave together”. Fortunately, there were others around who could handle the other “very pressing matters” that were going on at the same time, so I could focus.

But I didn’t snap. I locked myself into the task as single-mindedly as I could, went through each step three times to get it right… measuring twice, cutting, measuring again, then sanding down as needed. Then it was resolved, and the deadline was met anyway.

I was then pretty jazzed from the rush of energy mixed with being pretty weary and allergic this week. And I feel pretty good. So I’ll count this as a good step forward, and thank the Me of Last Year for helping me learn.

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Today, my moment of zen presence I wanted to mention came while making a left turn. I wasn’t sure if the arrow would stay green as I approached the intersection, so I set Commander Brain aside and simply focused my attention on the condition of the light and safety of the intersection. I tried to just be present in that space, and turn or stop as the situation called for.

Now, I don’t want anybody to think I’m all-out badmouthing Commander Brain. It’s that part of our minds that serves the important purpose of keeping our focus and helping direct our activities and attention through much of our day. However, as I mentioned yesterday, the downfall of Commander Brain is that it tries to take on too much responsibility and authority over ALL of our activities and attention. So before getting into that, I just want to mention a few things that Commander Brain does very right.

Commander Brain can be very good at…

  • Following stories and conversations
  • Learning complex tasks through the initial comprehension phase
  • Writing instructions and guidelines
  • Following instructions and directions
  • Discerning shapes and colors
  • Applying past lessons in cognitive assessment to present situations, to a limited extent

For that last bit especially, however, Commander Brain can only excel at these and other tasks when properly trained. The proper training involves care and attention in learning how to focus Commander Brain’s attention on these tasks, while remaining open not to Commander Brain’s other side-activities, but the input and processing from the other 95% of the brain. If you’ve ever tried to really focus on something without getting distracted by the past, the future, or even concerns about the present, you know how difficult this training can be.

And for me, this is what zen is all about. It isn’t about killing Commander Brain, it’s helping Commander Brain become a skillful manager of our conscious experience. Not the tyrant, not the dictator, and certainly not the martyr, just the “user interface” of our human experience.

I realize some people might consider that kind of denigrating the role of the Ego portion of conscious thought. But the idea of Ego being the UI rather than the central processor of our computer selves seems rather liberating. It frees the part that most embodies self-identification from having to be tied down to the heavy burdens of always having to be in control, of never being able to afford terrifyingly arbitrary mistakes. We still have to be responsible through our Ego selves and strive toward better practice, but this gives us the freedom to do that, creates the space we need to experiment and excel.

It also removes that ultimate threat the Ego most fears: insignificance and death. We don’t have to kill our Ego to attain Liberation and Enlightenment. We just have to learn to align it along with the rest of ourselves into that harmony that sings most true.

That might sound pretty daunting, but like all things, it’s just a matter of practicing a little each day. Over time, we develop our own quirky mastery, if not over life itself, at least in our path of learning to live it.

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Happy Zen Year!

So, 2013. What a year, huh? It was so full of hidden gems and other rocks & hard places, it was tough to stay present in our own skin. There was too much popping up all at once, and too much falling away. How could we keep up?

I heard once that odd numbers hold more chaos and even numbers more constancy, so that made me think that perhaps I could apply that concept to years. If 2013 was chaos that kept the world off its center, perhaps 2014 may be a year of regrouping within that center.

So I’m committing to focus at least one moment each day in a way that brings my full attention to that present moment. I’m shooting for actually posting about that moment or other thoughts each day, to stay present here, as well. Part of my joy is to share what I receive with others. This 2014 is a year to dedicate to joy, being present with it and sharing that presence with others.

You who read this, regardless of when you read it, please consider making a similar commitment to dedicating a tiny slice of each day to connect to the world through your own center. No matter how you feel about yourself, you’re a part of this crazy planet, and we need you to honor that. You don’t have to do anything “special”, just pause with a breath and thank any random moment for allowing you to experience it. That alone will bring you into that precious moment, and experience the simplicity of pure presence that is zen.

It’s time to start showing up. I and the rest of the world dearly look forward to sharing it with you.

Here’s to a Happy Zen Year!

Note: This was actually posted on the 2nd, when the thoughts finished forming into words I could type. Clearly, I’m pretty fluid on the implementation of this goal. Just be who you are and let life flow through you!

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Halloween is my holiday. I use it to feel the blending of the barriers we hold in our minds the remainder of the year, absolving us of them as we enter the “end of year season”. So much comes up for harvest during this season, I like to use Halloween to celebrate the old idea of suspending the veil between There and Here, so that our harvest may enjoy the best of all worlds.

Here’s some thoughts from trying to find out how to express this practice…

Hallowing the Eve

Open your heart to the day,
with its twisting and its turning,
allow it to show you the way
it fulfills your greater yearning

Open your heart to the fey,
all that's mystical and Hidden,
to heal all your heartache away,
feel the glow in Truths Forbidden

Open your heart to the Way,
those unspoken words of wonder,
observe how realities play,
it may mend your world asunder

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