Presence

This past week, I  flew out to Costa Rica on an adventure. I went to School of the World in Jaco, a place where you can be productive while on vacation. I decided to take spanish lessons and yoga classes, 2 of my top interests at the moment. I went, thinking I was going to improve my spanish and maybe deepen my yoga practice; however, what I got out of this trip was something I never expected.  I learned to slow down, for the first time in my life. I met people who had such a sense of adventure, a joy for life. And it touched a very deep part of me that I have not been faithful to, a part that has been buried deep for so long. Hearing others stories of travel, seeing their dreams, their desires, learning their reason for travel, their life stories… it was beautiful. So many people coming from all over the world to one place, all for the same reason – to experience. To experience adventure,  the beauty and love of other countries, a change in their lives… And it opened my eyes to the present. To allow myself to slow down, to not always rush around.

I have always listened to that voice, urging me to rush, to not stop and be in the moment. And there is that other voice, that always tells me to slow down. to be patient. to relax. and that loud voice of anxiousness has always, always won. Always afraid to let go, to let that silence overcome me. To sit still for 2 seconds, afraid of what thoughts might come crashing in. Afraid of that space, the space that allows one to be present and enjoy life. But not anymore. I have felt this shift happening within me the past few weeks; that gut feeling that things are changing, that I am changing. I am feeling more at peace, allowing myself to enjoy things I would always brush off and not care about. And that loud voice, telling me to always be on the go… it is scared. it is scared that it won’t be listened to anymore, lost in the silence it so greatly fears. And I am embracing it, slowly, cautiously catching glimpses of the peace that comes with just being.

As I lay on my yoga mat tonight in Shavasana, concentrating on my Ujjayi Breath, I chant the mantra **”I choose to enjoy this present moment. I choose to enjoy this present moment.” Hearing the breath come in and out of my nose, through my throat… Letting go of all tension in my face, my arms, my legs, I feel the energy running through my body. I am aware of the sounds around me, yet  am somehow stepping out of my mind, aware of myself, my thoughts and how my body feels. And I realize, that I am present. It is so peaceful, yet so startling – I knew that this is how every person should feel – beautiful, at peace, an overwhelming feeling of love. It was just a quick glimpse in a short time, but it brought me such joy. It was like something shifted in me – I let go of having to be in control of every move and thought, focusing only on the sensation of my body and the sounds around me. I just WAS. I wasn’t a body, I wasn’t my thoughts… I was everything, and I was all around. I didn’t want to stop being in that moment – it was so refreshing, so new, so relaxing. Like taking a hot shower after a long day, or taking off your shoes after being on your feet all day. Relief. Something your body welcomes, that calm, that release of stress – it craves it, never wanting that feeling to go away.

Being present is hard. It is like learning a new way to live, a new way to breathe, a new way to run… learning a new language, to excel at a sport, to improve your posture. It will take time, but practice will make you better. Just sticking with it, and knowing that at your core being, you are love and joy. You are here, but are just bogged down with the thoughts of everyday life. So slow down. Focus on your breath. Develop a mantra. Take a few seconds to be aware of the present moment in the middle of your day.

You never know when your last moment on earth will be, so will it really matter if you are a few minutes late? Will it matter if that car cut you off? And does it make sense to worry about things that will most likely never happen? No, not really. Most everything can wait. And if you don’t know, just like anyone else on this earth does not know when their time is up, you might as well be enjoying the present moment while you are here. So take a longer detour, enjoy things you would normally pass by, be a few minutes late to work. Be here. Be aware. Others will pick up on your presence – and in the words of Marianne Williamson, “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

**I choose to enjoy this present moment mantra comes from the book of meditations, Expand this Moment, by John Selby. It is a simple meditation that you can say at any time in the day to bring you centered and back to the present moment (kind of like a coffee break for the mind :))

–  “I choose” – enables you to assume control over your own mind

– “to enjoy” – specifies where you aim your attention – at enjoyment

– “this moment” – aims your attention at the immediate sensory events happening inside and around you right now

Purpose

I have been listening to a lot of (Esther) Abraham Hicks lately – her voice is so soothing, and I love what she has to say! She is so positive and just makes so much SENSE. Some people might think what she does is a little out there, but I think what she does it pretty cool. I think we have all come to this earth with a purpose, and no matter how crazy it may sound or look to others, you should always be open about who you are. We are all given a gift – some may seem more obvious than others, but we all have one. For those that have trouble finding their “gift” or “passion” – don’t give up! The best advice I can give is to just let go. Stop looking for your passion. Start doing things you enjoy. Meet people, have fun. Be yourself! By allowing yourself to be free, free of what others think of you, free of others (and your own) expectations, you begin living the life you are supposed to live. You might lose friends, your lifestyle, the image you have built up – but that is life. Things change, people change – we are all limitless beings, meant to grow and evolve.

Just look at Esther Hicks – she describes Abraham as an “infinite intelligence” that speaks through her. Others might find that weird, but her teachings are so full of love (and sometimes humor). Same goes to Theresa Caputo from the long island medium show on TLC – she is able to communicate with the dead, which she does to give others a sense of peace after their loved ones have passed. Both of these women are examples of having a unique gift – gifts they could have labeled as “crazy” or weird”, but instead, accepted who they were and ran with it. And look at how many lives they have touched! It is quite beautiful, no?

Personally, I don’t know what my passion is. I know I like to help others. I like to make them smile. I like to make people think and get them to open their minds. I like be active, I like to bake. I love to read, do yoga, learn. So what am I doing with this? I stopped fighting. I stopped listening to that voice in my head that told me I would never be good at anything. Would never fulfill my purpose. And I realized that I couldn’t do what I was meant to do on this earth if I continued to be the way I was. I needed to continuously be reading, learning, challenging myself, my beliefs. I had to grow and evolve so I could be the best I could be.

If I am not being true to myself, living a life I am not happy about, how could I truly find my purpose? Would it just knock on my front door and say “HEY! I am your purpose. You can stop looking now.” No. Because you need to go through events in your life to shape you into what you need to be. How unfulfilling would it be for an artist to have a piece of clay in front of them – touch it – and their sculpture just appear? All of that work, that creativity, the satisfaction of creating something so beautiful – never happened. And that’s how life is, too. You must mold it, shape it, take what you have to create what you want. Sometimes your “sculpture” may not turn out the way you want it to, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great. You are always learning, taking in every bit that will affect your life. Nothing is useless – you can use every single piece of information and experience in your life to create the person you came here to be. So sit down, take your life into your own hands, and make something beautiful.

 gift

I am

Sometimes life gets hectic. Too hectic. It is so easy to get lost in the everyday hustle and bustle, going from one thing to the next. Lost in our thoughts, lost in our worries, lost in these lives that we have created for ourselves. And slowly, we get out of touch. With ourselves, with others, with our purpose, our passions. We forget to listen to our intuition – telling us to slow down. Take a breathe. Quiet your mind. Love this moment. Smile.

Listen to those thoughts. Listen to that nagging feeling. Don’t fight it – accept it. Listen to it.

This past week, I have had the house to myself. I have felt a little more quieter and at peace, going to bed earlier and reading those books that have been stacking up next to my bedside. But still – those nagging thoughts, that feeling that comes up and you can no longer fight it – hit me like a ton of bricks tonightI finally gave in, and I felt such a peace, such a quieting of my mind that I have not experienced in a very long time, if ever.

This thought of wanting to move my body, to flow, to get into a handstand, came to mind. I was watching TV, but made myself turn it off. This constant struggle of what I want to do versus what I NEED to do always comes up, and what I need to do rarely wins any argument I have made up in my mind. TonightI decided to do what I needed.

Going into downward dog, I let my mind go and released any thoughts my ego kept throwing at me. I listened to my breath, in and out, through my nose. I felt my body, the tightness in my legs, the release of tension from sitting at a desk all day. Flowing into chaturanga, I began moving. Opening up my hips, my shoulders. Warrior 1, then 2, then 3. Chair pose, with a twist. Tree pose, including my bad knee (!), ignoring any thoughts and trusting my body to move the way it naturally should. Bending down, then up, with hands in prayer pose. Headstand, then down again. Breathing in and out. Marjaryasana. Bitilasana. Finishing up, I come down to my knees, ending in childs pose (! again, my knee!), trusting that my knee could bend the way it naturally should (and it did!).

Sitting up, indian style with my legs crossed, I let me bad knee fall down, my hips open up, trusting that my body can do so much more than I limit it to. My mind is empty, and I still have this feeling of emptiness, floating. I set my timer to meditate – 10, 20, 30 minutes (!). I let my thoughts come in, listening to them, loving them, and letting them go. I hear one thought stand out – I am. I am love, I am light, I am here – and this becomes my mantra for this time of release.

Feeling the tension in my body, I start from my toes up. I thank my feet, my toes, my ankles, my knees – they are so amazing. I trust them to carry me around, day to day. I thank my knee for healing so well, for being so strong. Then I start with the pains in my body – the tightness in my back, my stomach, my chest, and my throat. A thought comes up of a specific relationship for every pain, and I let memories flood in, good and bad. No judgement, just love. And letting go.

As I go through my meditation practice, I am feeling things that are hard. Sitting with memories that make me sad, that make me cry, that make me happy. I think about what I want, and I love and let go. I end my practice with affirmations – I am, I am love, I am beautiful. I open myself up to love, to others around me. I am myself, I am the best that I can be. I am. I am. I am.

Opening up my eyes, that nagging feeling is over, and I know that this is what I have been craving for so long – a silent meditation, a quieting of my mind. I thank the universe for this time of quiet and release, for this lesson of listening and letting go.

I am

Dreams

I love to read. I have an avid imagination, and filling my mind with book after book is so fulfilling to me. A Course in Miracles is a book that I have been trying to read for a while, so I joined a local meet-up group book club to help get a better understanding of this book. We meet 2x a month, and I look forward to these meetings every month. I feel like I am stimulated spiritually, mentally and emotionally by everyone in the group – there are people from so many different walks of life, and it is awesome to all come together to discuss such an amazing book. Love &  forgiveness are the recurring themes in the book – over and over, it talks about loving yourself, loving others around you, forgiveness and looking past your ego/illusions.

This past meeting, we went over Chapter V, Sec. V (The State of Sinlessness + The Special Function) & “What is a Miracle?” pg 473 in the workbook, Part II, Sec 13. The same message was given, again and again – the way you treat others is how you see yourself. By treating others poorly or judging them, you are holding back the love that you are… and what the other person is as well. We are all given gifts from the Holy Spirit, and by judging others, we are also suppressing the other persons full potential and gifts that are rightfully theirs. This struck such a strong chord within me, and I felt such at peace reading over the passages, the same message seeping into my heart and pulling me out of my ego thoughts.

Recently, I have noticed my dreams have been a little more… messag-y, for lack of a better word. To elaborate, I feel like I am getting more answers/messages through my dreams, which has never, ever happened to me before. I don’t have very vivid dreams, and I usually limit myself to what I can do in my dreams (for example: I recently had knee surgery, and I am very consciously aware of the fact that I should not ever be running while in my dreams).

So what do A Course in Miracles and my dreams have to do with each other?

The other night, after the book club meeting, I had a pretty interesting dream. So interesting, that I actually took the time to write out everything in the morning so I wouldn’t forget what I had dreamt about. Which I have never done before, but I just had this little voice telling me to write it down… like I needed to share it with others, because the message was so powerful. I had to wake up early for work, so I went back to bed for a little bit afterwards. I wanted to stay in my dream, so I kept hitting the snooze button and going back to it.

The Dream

In my dream, I was a different person. I had dark hair, was chubby, complete opposite of what I look like (blonde hair, blue eyes). However, I didn’t know I was different until later. My friends came up to me and told me my friend had gotten into a fender bender in my car. They kept trying to show me my car, but I kept thinking, “that’s not my car.” I later went back to look at the car, starting to run, but remembered thinking about my knee I recently had surgery on. So, I walked over, saw the car, and knew it wasn’t mine. At this point, I was confused, but was aware that I was dreaming. So, I didn’t worry too much about it and went back to my house (which I knew wasn’t mine). This is when I first saw myself. It wasn’t me, physically (The weird thing is, my boyfriend was there, as well as my mom and aunts). I remember thinking in my dream, I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to be this person, in this body. And I remembered, “This is only a dream.” So, in my dream, I went to bed and thought really hard about waking up as myself. And I did! It was like I inception-ed myself in my dream – I woke up as my normal self, but was still dreaming. I was so relieved! Then, my alarm went off again (in real life), but I hit the snooze and continued on with my dream.

Back in my dream, I was that other woman again. I didn’t like it, but just went with it, since I was aware that I was still dreaming. I went around the neighborhood to this farm/plantation, which was right behind my house. There were barrels full of cut up food like veggies & lettuce – people were farming and putting everything in bins, and people could come up and take what they wanted. I walked onto a large field, where there were rows & rows of wooden tables with the same barrels near them. Plates lined the tables, and people could reach into any of the food barrels and grab what they wanted to put on their plate.

At this point, I began to have this realization that even though I knew I was this stranger in my dream, I was also me. Both of our lives were happening at the same time, and I knew that everything in LIFE was happening at this exact moment in time. There was no past or future, just the present, where everything happens. (Ex: WW1 was happening at the exact same moment that I was born, and there was no such thing as time – Insert the concept of time explained in Disappearance of the Universe, as well as any book written by Eckhart Tolle.) Everything just was. I was the person next to me, and he was me. And I saw that we were all the same, and saw that there was no reason to treat anyone differently, only with kindness and love. And I realized that if we all saw this in each other, there really could be a change in the world… Only if we all saw each other as one, the same, working together, sharing, being love. All because we knew there was no difference in each other.

I was aware that I still wanted to go back to being “me” – my ego not wanting to give up its “specialness” of being better or different than others. But it didn’t matter, because I was someone else and could understand that the only difference of being in another body was the way I perceived the other body physically. Realizing I am everyone else, just living in this “dream” called life, in this exact moment of consciousness -was perfection. Total, complete, peace and love.

 ACIM

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