Live the Life Presented to You

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We spend our lives searching. After our basic needs are met, we continue to scan the horizon for our next destination or experience. I’ve traveled enough to know that there are indeed lovely places to see. Sometimes when traveling to new places, I feel more alive. The voices in my head take the back seat.

Some people’s inner critic hijacks their experiences with comparing and judging.  Sitting at a cafe in Paris, they complain the coffee back home is so much better. In India they ask the hotel’s concierge for a name of a restaurant that serves American food. No one is going to convince me to eat Indian food, they tell their travel mates. Their bodies are traveling, but their minds are fixed, replaying the same thoughts.  

If my physical body is standing in line at the Secretary of State or sitting in a gondola in Italy, my mind and body GPS coordinates should align. In other words, when I’m physically in line to renew my driver’s license in Colorado, my mind should also be in Colorado. 

Prajna, a Buddhist term, is a way of seeing things as they are, observing instead of perceiving, which implies creating a story. One of Tim’s favorite sayings, is: It is what it is. In other words, face every situation with a blank slate.

Ideally, I would awaken to each new day in complete awareness. If only there were steps to follow, like avoiding caffeine, to make it happen. The good news is that although we keep abandoning the Present moment, it never leaves us. Like our authentic self is always with us.

Awakening to the Present moment is letting go of thinking you control what happens. You let go of thoughts that suggest you can use externals to get grounded. Nothing outside ourselves will ever give us permanent security. We exist on shifting sands, impermanence. The point is to know it, understand it, and live the life presented to us.

Accepting that life unfolds to our liking and not to our liking eliminates the illusion that we are in control. It’s what Tim is trying to do when he shifts from worrying that the fire alarms will go off again to telling himself: I don’t mind what happens. It may not absolve all thoughts of the possibility of the shrieking red blinking boxes going off in the middle of the night, but it puts a buffer around the worrisome thoughts.  

Replaying the past when someone hurt you or some embarrassing moment that happened is a waste of time. Strong negative emotions are kept alive by thinking and retelling the stories. If we shift to the Present, a place of acceptance, we notice a change in our energy field. Even when something keeps nagging us, our inner acceptance puts a space around it that makes it matter less. After a while, it surfaces less and less. 

An ancient meditation technique, a mantra, is chanted to help us focus. When repeated, again and again, it modifies and re-wires the brain (plasticity). It’s what happened in your brain when you learned to ride a bike or a second-language. 

When facing a blank page on the computer screen, before starting a new blog post, my first thoughts might be: May the universe grant me the serenity to close all the tabs I’m never going to read and the courage to read those I should—and the wisdom to know the difference. After this little humor break, looking at the nature outside my window, I repeat some variation of, May my words contribute to the enjoyment and learning for all. Mantras are whatever works for you to return yourself to you.  

There is no destination to reach to live life fully. Turn your attention away from the world and listen to the whispers of your higher being. Continue the journey you are meant to take, in the Present moment, step-by-step.