Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Moment in Love. How to Live in a Relentlessly Impermanent World. #3

Before we can live a life centered in the present, we have to let go of the past. Easier said than done, right? I can only tell you how I go about staying in the moment and what works for me. It requires the acquisition of wisdom and a lot of determination. I have to do it even when I don't want to. When I can live in the present moment, I am happy. I am very well acquainted with the fact that pain resides in the past and fear resides in the future. Truly the only place I can be comfortable is in the present moment.

Letting go of the past does not mean forgetting the past - it means letting go of the emotional baggage that we have accumulated in our many experiences. It seems like our minds have been conditioned to think and act in a certain way, hanging on to everything emotion (especially unpleasant ones) and we bring all of it into our lives everyday. It is
as if we recreate the past in the present moment.

For instance, if we had a relationship several years ago that ended sadly and we still feel the pain when that person comes to mind, maybe great pain, we can ask ourselves why we feel so much emotion over something that does not exist anymore. How can we feel so bad today over something is totally gone? I think the reason is that we are recreating the past in the present. Its not what happened in the past that is the source of the problem, its what's happening in the present.  Dragging the past into the present and reliving it as if it were real is a very bad habit. It will flavor our minds with sadness and it will make it very hard to do anything truly new, truly fresh and it will cast a shadow over our joy.

I have heard people say, and I have said it myself, that when you suffer a painful loss you never get over it completely. Today I find this idea horrifying. If it is true that you never completely get over losses, then life will always be filled with pain piled upon pain. By the end of our lives, we will be very, very sad.

Buddha's teachings on impermanence and subtle impermanence contain a powerful method to counteract the habit of hanging on to past pain. Habits can be changed - we can replace pain from the past with a day by day happiness in each moment. Again, easier said than done. I have all of the societal thoughts and training most Americans grow up believing about loss and pain. Its takes concerted effort and a lot of time to change these habits. But its so worth it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Moment in Love. How to Live in a Relentlessly Impermanent World #2

I hate everything today. I'm in the past I'm in the future I'm feeling like shit.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Moment in Love - How to Live in a Relentlessly Impermanent World. #1

These clouds on this windy day, remind me how beautiful
(and sometimes fleeting) a moment can be. - R.M.
Anyone who reads my blog knows that I'm a lesbian working the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, that I believe the Buddhist path is the right path for my life and that I believe in God, a power greater than myself that knows my name and loves me. I struggle with impermanence, living in the moment and with loneliness. When I am diligently staying connected to God and living my path the three things I worry with the most fade into the background and I experience a freedom that is truly wonderful. I have recently learned that impermanence and living in the moment are intimately connected and vital to each other. Living in the present moment, this instant here and now, is a way to survive and thrive in what seems to be a relentlessly uncertain world.

Having said all of that, I had a love affair that has ended but it changed me and propelled me forward in my understanding of impermanence, living in the moment and loneliness. My top three. I learned incredible things about what exists in the moment when I stop and pay attention. The moment contains more life, more dimensions, more feeling and emotion, more possibilities than I ever knew about. The wide and abundant life currently existing in the moment all around us truly amazing. This is a very large statement I am about to make - I think all of life, more life than I ever knew existed and access to new levels of experience are contained in the moment. If I am reliving the past or tripping into the future, this new illuminated knowledge is not available to me.

Impermanence is a fact of life. Everyone dies, everything changes, nothing stays the same, at this writing I am not the same person who woke up this morning and this is my truth. Everything is continually flowing and changing. How are we to cope with this? Is there a way to feel anchored in anything or do we have to always be floating or floundering? I think one answer to living in an impermanent world is simply living in the moment. The simplest answer is usually the right one. Where am I right now? What is happening in this exact moment? Where are my feet? Do I want to just float along letting things happen to me or do I want to stay awake and be a part of something much larger?

This intro is short, but it took me all afternoon to write. I'm going to take a nap and pick this up tomorrow.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Living in the Moment

Mindfulness can be seen as the practice of “being in the moment” – but what does this actually mean? Does it mean that if we’re mindful we should never think about the past or the future, never try to plan or to reflect on our past experience?

Being in the moment means being mindfully aware of what is going on right here and now, in our experience, and this includes any thinking we do about the past or future. Much of the time our experience does not have a quality of  mindfulness. A lot of the time we are like robots, automatically living out habitual patterns of self-pity or anger, future-tripping or fear, etc. These habitual tendencies take us over and run our lives, and we aren't able to stand back and decide whether this is what we actually want to be doing. It's shocking when we realize just how habitual and automatic our lives are and when we realize how much robotic  thinking leads to emotional pain -- suffering.

When we’re in this robotic state, we’re not mindfully aware of what’s going on. We may know on some level that we’re in fear, but we probably don’t realize that we have the option not to be afraid. We fantasize without any discernment of whether what we’re thinking about is making us happy or unhappy. In fact, a lot of the time when we are letting our unexamined, automatic thoughts dominate our minds, we are not making ourselves or anyone else happy – usually its the opposite.

Being in the moment is another way of saying that we are aware of what is. When we aren't in the moment, we're re-living the past or tripping into the future. We might be dwelling on the past – brooding about some past hurt. Or we may be fantasizing about a future were we have won the lottery and are living in some imaginary paradise, or daydreaming about being in the perfect career. Often these fantasized pasts and futures are not even real possibilities but simply fantasies of how things might be or of how we would have liked them to be. As with all unmindful activity, we have no idea this fantasizing is pointless. All it does is reinforce unhelpful emotions that can never truly enhance our lives.

There are ways of mindfully thinking about the past or future. Being in the moment does not mean that we are stuck in the moment. We can mindfully and creatively call to mind past events, or imagine what might happen in the future. We can think about the past and think about how we might have acted differently, or wonder why something happened the way it did. We can think about possible futures, and of how the actions that we commit now will make those futures more or less likely. When we are thinking about the past or future while being in the moment, we are conscious that we are reflecting and we’re not lost in thought. We don’t confuse fantasy with reality. We don’t stray from thinking about the past in order to construct imaginary pasts in which we said or did the right thing. We think about the future, but rather than it being idle daydreaming we’re thinking about the consequences of our actions or maybe thinking about where we want to go in life.

Sometimes mindful daydreaming can be creative. It can be wonderful to relax the reins of consciousness and give the creative unconscious mind the opportunity to express itself. But it’s generally far more useful to have a part of our conscious mind standing by, watching for any sign that the unconscious creative expressions turning into repetitive and reactive expressions of old and unhelpful emotional patterns. The conscious mind can intervene at such moments with a light touch, a gentle redirection of our thoughts so that we stay in the present and be aware, mindful, and creative.