Sunday, January 31, 2010

Challenging Situations

I recently had a number of challenging situation one after another come up in my life. Remembering my desire to remain present, I did attempt to do so, but without much luck. I found myself more quickly being pulled into patterns and habits. I also found that I had not written much over the last week or so, but given that I want to share the challenges as well as the triumphs, I will write about both.

What I feel is important to take from this is two things.....

1 - What I wrote a couple of posts ago. That we do not have to get it all at once and to continue remaining as present as possible during non-challenging situations. Over time we build "spiritual muscle" so to speak and will be more present more of the time.

2 - I again found that when I stopped wishing for things to be different than they were, the suffering was alleviated and it was easier to be more present.

Join me in the present!

Sleep... or the Lack There Of....

After a tiring day, weekend, week.... I can say for sure that lack of sleep or feeling tired contributes to a lack of presence or awareness.

It was much easier to slip into old patterns and habits when feeling tired.

What I did find helpful was to stop wishing for things to be different than they were. When I stopped wishing to NOT be tired, it was as though the "suffering" was removed and only the more factual situation remained. I was still tired, but did not feel as bad about being tired.

Join me in the present!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ask and the Universe Answers!

I love how the Universe works! It does not always respond this quickly. I had just asked the question about how the rest of us at the bottom of the mountain should remain present. While listening to a recording of Eckhart Tolle last night, I got what I believe, is the answer.

Tolle says to begin small (most of you know I like simplicity!) Begin being present in nature or in peaceful settings. For most of us this is the most simply way to become present... in woods or by water. [To take your own minute in the waves, click here!]

Next, he suggests adding repetitive daily situations like brushing one's teeth or starting the car. Try to be present with each tooth as you brush it, or take 30 seconds before starting the car (unless an emergency situation!) Tolle (paraphrasing here) then goes on to say that many people live their lives as though everything is an emergency and this is not what he is talking about. He did not say this, but I believe Tolle is suggesting breaking the habit of living life as though it is an emergency by introducing more presence into every day activities.

He suggests those activities that we find most challenging, as I mention in the previous post, may be the last activities in which we are able to bring presence into regularly. It somewhat felt like permission to not have to "get it" all at once.

Over the next year, I will further explore what this looks like in daily life. Please come back to this blog over the coming months to read more or read my other blog, Simply Spirituality, for related information!

Join me in the present!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mountain Top

I have another question that I want to explore in more detail over the next year. Maybe at the heart of this blog. If one is a monk, meditating on a mountain top, it seems it would be quite simple to remain present given little or no interruptions, commotion, chaos..... life in general intervening.

Most of the rest of us have jobs, significant others, kids, extended family, school, volunteer jobs, homework, co-workers, church or other organizations to which we belong or attend.... not to mention the daily stresses in life such as ..... Traffic, bills, housework, laundry just to name a few!..... So, how do the rest of us, living at the bottom of the mountain remain in the NOW?

More questions!
Join me in the present!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Present..... NOW.... Present Moment

What is the Present? NOW? This is another of those questions I hope to explore on this blog. I looked up "now" in Webster's and it says the present time or moment... so I had that much already!

Think of every moment leading up to this moment in time... that is past. Every moment that has not yet happened, that is future. If we imagine that both of those do not exist, what we are left with is NOW. In reality the past no longer does exist since it is over and in reality the future has not happened yet, so in reality, all we really are left with is NOW! I would love to hear comments you may have on that!

So if that is the case, why do so many of us (myself included) act as if we are in the past or future. Some planning for the future is good! To paraphrase Marianne Williamson, "Don't just show up at the airport and expect there will be a seat for you on the plane where you want to go!" I am talking more about getting lost in the future, like living for the weekend or looking forward to a special event to the exclusion of where you are in the moment.

Many of us act from the past as well. Have you ever had a heated exchange with someone only to recount it over and over in your head for the next hour, or day or week or longer.... and all the lucky people in your life also usually get to re-live it again with you! We've all done that!

I'll share an example from my own life. In 11th grade, I was the passenger in the front seat of a car that was in an accident. My head hit and broke the windshield (I can hear some of you saying - "OH, that explains a lot!") ;) My point is that to this day, I am still a very nervous passenger because of that accident nearly 30 years ago. How can something that happened 30 years ago in the past have such an influence on me NOW? If I could let it be in the past, it would be over, right?

So far, I think I am asking more questions that answering!
Join me in the present!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Present during Boot camp!

What was I thinking?!?! The very first thing I do after starting this new blog, was head to Boot Camp. No, I didn't join the army. There is a class at the local gym called "Boot Camp." I probably don't have to tell you that it is pretty challenging!

Not more than 5 minutes in, I found myself, in pain, already thinking about the end of class and wishing for it to be over. Not very present! Thankfully, the teacher is awesome, full of energy but also realistic and gave us lots of options. So, I stepped it back just a bit, and focused on being where I was, pain and all. A few minutes later, during squats..... AGAIN! OK Penelope, get back in class! So breathing through the squats and being in my aching body, on went the class. Finally, the stretching phase.... over way too quick!

The teacher really helped. Her high energy and great music helps to keep one centered in what they are doing, along with her watchful eye and encouraging words!

So - all in all, I will call this a small victory. No, I did not stay completely present for the entire class, but for a lot of it. The times I was present the exercises felt "fuller" or more complete.... like I really used the muscle and not just going through the motions!

Please join me in the present!

Carry Water Chop Wood

Welcome to my NEW blog! Carry Water Chop Wood.... this comes from the Zen saying, "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water." What’s the difference? The tasks are the same. The need is the same. What about the frame of mind? Who is chopping? Who is carrying water?

Some of you may notice that my blog title is the opposite of the saying... this is simply because that domain name was taken... and backwards seems a good approach to take to me right now anyway. That is to look at my life differently than I have in the past and try something new. I need to give credit to my good friend, Debbie, for suggesting the title.

This is going to be a year long experiment on living in the present moment. On the blog I will share the ups and downs, challenges and triumphs of attempting to live in the present moment and how it changes both myself and my family over the course of a year.

I hope to address questions such as what does it mean to be present?

Is it realistic to be present in every day life?

How does it change my experience of every day activities?

How does it change the experience for others?

This will be a more relaxed format than my other blog, Simply Spirituality, and I plan to post on a weekly rather than monthly basis. I also welcome comments and experiences of others in the comment section below!

Please join me in the present moment!