You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
Henry David Thoreau
I just love the imagery of the ocean, especially when I am on the beach, listening to the crashing of the waves, wind blowing, sun on my face. Mostly, because the ocean has a way of making us come alive. The waves coming and going, our worrys and problems seem to wash away with the tides.
The thoughts, feelings and situations that make up our lives are like waves in the ocean. They come and go. Have you ever tried to hold on to a wave in the ocean? You probably weren’t to successful with that one. Anyone whose ever been in the ocean has surely been knocked down a few times. We are much better off riding with the wave, because when we fight them, the waves will always win. After a fall we might come up for air, punching the waves, hair in our faces, water up our noses, or bathing suit askew.
We can choose to fight the waves (who does that right?) or we can choose to launch ourselves onto every wave. While we can’t hold onto waves in the ocean, we do have the ablity to cling to thoughts and feelings. But we can also choose to let them go.
Just the same, conscious living is a choice, the key component: Engage in the Present. Live the life that you are living. Living in the present moment, or mindfully, is conscious living.
Is there something that makes you feel engaged in life, aware and in touch with the present moment?
I recently led a women’s group at St. Martin’s in the Field Episcopal Church in Columbia. I was leading a workshop on mindfulness as a practice for growing closer to God. Each of us have our own perspectives about the definition of God, but for me this word “God” represents all that exists and the love that flows through every living thing. It’s probably why the ocean is so majestic, because it’s made of all of these tiny God particles and culminates into this gigantic symphony of movement. The ocean was one of those things that brought many of the women in the workshop closer to God.
Here is a glimpse at some of the other things they said brought them closer to God:
They told me that things such as nature, gratitude, creativity, relationship with others and even death and loss brought them closer to this peaceful state of grace or God consciousness. When asked further, they were able to identify these situations as times where they were fully engaged in the present moment of their lives.
When we Engage in the Present, we live mindfully, with non-judgment and awareness of what’s happening in the present moment.We choose to let go of worries and fears about the past and future. We live consciously.
You are living your life anyway, so why not live fully engaged? Last week I wrote on Accepting Reality, one component of Engaging in the Present, which allows us freedom from suffering. This acceptance along with choosing to live with non-judgment and awareness of what’s happening in the present moment opens our eyes to the miracle of life. Underneath all of the moaning and groaning about how things should be, ultimately, wouldn’t you agree that life is a miracle? Here is what Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist monk and Nobel Peace Prize winner has to say about life:
People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
If your own experience isn’t enough to convenience you, there is plenty of research out there that speaks to the benefits of mindfulness, or Engaging in the Present. Here are just a few:
- Increase emotional regulation including decreasing symptoms of depression and stress
- Increase pain tolerance which is critical to living a life without suffering
- Increase focus and attention
- Increase self awareness allowing you to live more authentically
- When practiced regularly, it even has the potential to change your brain functioning
There is increasing research on these benefits and more. For more information on research regarding the benefits of mindfulness practice, I suggest looking at the Mindfulness Research Guide.
With all of the business surrounding us in our world, it does take some commitment and practice in order to gain benefits from mindfulness. But you can practice at any time or in any place.
There are a several ways to do this, and they are things you probably practiced many times before. Sometimes when we get stuck thinking about the past or worrying about the future, our minds make this stuff more difficult than it need be.
Ultimately it is a matter of understanding how to just Be…
- Be Yourself. Trust yourself. Be patient with yourself and your life. Be who you are without striving. You are perfect just the way you are
- Be still. Focus on one thing in each moment
- Be non-judgemental. Observe your life and your experiences without judging
- Be willing to let go of attachment to thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Imagine your mind as a slip-n-slide, allow thoughts to come and go
- Be motivated to action. Know that the choices you make add up to the life that you have. Make the most effective choice for each moment
- Engaging in the present through mindfulness takes practice. Practice daily and you will find your self living more fully, consciously and authentically.
These states of mind are a great place to start. If you are still unsure where to go from here, then we want to help! Check back at the Flying Fish Blog for regularly updated posts on consciously living and other ways to create the life you want.
If you would like to attend classes or coaching to gain support in living consciously, are interested in working with us to teach others about living consciously by writing for our blog or volunteering in other ways, or if you have any questions about what we do, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at email@example.com.