I received a beautiful question the other day, from a friend who was seeking understanding around how to respond to all the demands in life and maintain present moment awareness.
I love this question: How do we move through life with awareness (staying rooted in the present) and still get everything done?
How do we stay present when so much of what we do seems to require thinking, planning, doing….like our jobs, or keeping a household running, or taking care of others that need us? It seems that the very heart of our conditioning lies in these massive invisible clouds laden with ideas, expectations, plans and objectives that we unconsciously carry into each moment (whether it is a business meeting, or grocery shopping, or even some of our social get-togethers). No wonder we are exhausted! We spend virtually all our time racing around, trying to get everything done while meeting all the conditions and demands written in these ‘clouds’.
Is it possible to just let all that go and fully be here (and still see everything that ‘needs to get done’, get done?)
Well, why don’t you check it out for yourself? I have found that it is not only possible, but much more sane and enjoyable…..
There are no conditions needed to be fully present. We don’t have to wait until there is a quiet moment alone to allow ourselves to be fully present. We can be fully present – actually we already are fully present– in any moment. Notice if you have attached an idea or image of what ‘being present’ looks like…..most of us do. Being present doesn’t look a certain way – it simply means being fully open to what’s here. So we can be fully present with sadness, or busyness, or stress – these states might not be comfortable but we don’t have to let them take us for an exhausting mental ride. We can just stay present and not run away, or hide, or push away, or distract ourselves from discomfort of any degree. It can be challenging at first – because it is unfamiliar and seemingly counter-intuitive to remain in apparent discomfort – but that changes.
It is helpful to consider the conditions you may have put on your experience (for it to be ‘good’ or ‘happy’ or ‘meaningful’). And see that because you likely have a deep preference for certain moments, activities, people or emotional states, when something different arises, you hit resistance – and then feel like you are not ‘present’. It is natural to have preferences – but when we continually exert effort to ‘make our preferences come into being’, we are in resistance to what is already present, and we feel out of alignment with ourself in some way – disconnected, separate, fragmented, confused….
So become aware of that resistance – that is what makes things extremely painful. The resistance is what causes the suffering. Once you are aware that you are resisting something uncomfortable (almost always an emotion) you are at the foot of a conscious choice -to keep resisting (denying, avoiding) or to dive in and see what’s there. I’m here to encourage you to take the dive!! (Join me for a session if you would like support in moving through this…..<3).
There is a maturing that happens here… at some point we start to realize how we’ve been on the path of insanity, which involves believing every thought and working our butts off to accomplish everything those thoughts tell us to do. Then we might start to question our thoughts (Byron Katie’s Work is so useful here) and we start to see that we don’t have to believe them – there are other choices.
Then we might see that the one we identify ourselves to be, the one in control, actually doesn’t exist – except as a very strong and persuasive (continually gathering evidence to assert its existence) idea in our mind. An idea we have worshipped and defended fiercely for a long time, as being the centre of our existence. When this ‘me’ is seen though, a surrender spontaneously occurs and we find ourselves to just simply be here, with whatever is, without condition – we are curious, alive, conscious, spontaneous, intelligent and loving presence.
So then from this place ~of presence~ we might notice that the diapers are getting low, or we are out of bananas, or there is a work meeting scheduled for 11:00 am. Ok, this is the richness of the dance of life – we respond ‘as indicated’ to whatever life brings – from presence. Maybe a thought arises that a lesson needs to be planned for next week’s class – so we can notice that thought and remain conscious…. we can look to see if there is an emotional charge (stress) associated with it? If so, we inquire (open) into that stress. Or, if there is no stress, we go ahead and plan the lesson -from presence – which in my experience, results in a creative, inspired and joyful planning session which will likely flow into the actual class when taught.
It is essential to start telling the truth about what the most immediate thing is that is arising, whether it is an event, an emotion, an action, and attend to that. This often means just focusing your full awareness on it. Insights will flow in.
From a place of presence, the things we once thought ‘had to get done’ start to take on a different hue – a different meaning. They start to represent the mysterious movements of life. And lots of these things are seen to be nothing but conditioned demands from the illusory ‘cloud’, and they don’t actually need to get done – or if they do, we see that they don’t need to be stressful, or resisted, or executed in a predetermined way. We might see instead that they are all opportunities (diverse and always unexpected) to be unconditionally present.
We start to see busyness as the vibrancy and abundance of life’s movements.
This is what it means to operate from conscious loving awareness. It is gentle and supportive – and much more humble and simple than the perplexing weight that comes with trying to meet all the unconscious demands set by our cloudy minds.
Peace to you in this moment <3