The journey of awakening begins with an opening and shifting of perspective. Toxic thoughts can rule one’s life and cause a great deal of suffering. It is easy to become absorbed in those thoughts. It is as if the present moment disappears. Imagine your body sitting on a bank by the river, your thoughts would be like the boats that float by. However, often we don’t choose which boat to board, we just wake up, on a boat, far downstream, and wonder: “how did I get here”?
These trains of thought are powerful as if we are dreaming awake. And yet, at some point, no matter how far downstream, we always wake up. We always come back to the present moment. What force or impulse calls you back again to the present moment?
Consciousness? Awareness? This force or element of the mind can be our greatest ally in seeking to better our lives, to grow and expand our intelligence, wisdom, and compassion. With the cultivation of awareness, we can begin to choose which life direction we are headed.
Being Present in Each Moment
The ability to notice, and appreciate the present moment, can be a difficult, yet vital thing. So much magic occurs in the present moment, and this is where a true journey of awakening can occur. The present moment is full of newness, wonder, and opportunities to grow. Some say that the present moment is where “God” or “Source of Love” resides. When we are wrapped up in yesterday, we are spoiling the present moment with that energy. The past belongs in the past. Each moment we get a chance to change our life direction into a more positive and fulfilling direction. The past can cripple our self-image and drag us into insecurities. The past can be full of toxic stories and difficulties. We can use our pasts as tools for growth and allow the unfolding of the mystery to continue, better equipped. The past can trick us into thinking that we are a certain way, if it is not positive, then it can hold us into toxic thought or behavior patterns.
Practicing Mindfulness: A Practice of Being Present
In mindfulness, we can first take note of what it is like to be “lost” in thought vs what it is like to be “found,” or conscious and present again. As we compare these states, we usually find that being present feels more relaxed, focused, at ease, and connected. We begin to notice not all “boats of thought” are productive, many are even destructive. We can expand the mind’s natural ability to wake up from the dream of discursive thought, of the mind’s tendency toward stories and air castles. When we do, we become enlightened, if even for a few seconds. There is tremendous freedom in this discipline. You get to explore the magic in each unfolding moment. The flowers change shape throughout the day, but do we ever notice this movement? Many times, we are stuck in unproductive thoughts, and a focus on the tasks at hand. We recommend a practice of just noticing and developing this noticing. What are you becoming? Are you slowly opening up, or shutting down?
Journey of Awakening: Spiritual Practice
With practice, we can begin to make choices in our lives, both large and small, from the place of wakefulness, awareness, and mindfulness, of being present rather than from the egoic mind, the mind lost in what-ifs and the pains of the past, the mind that is engaging with the world of our fantasy, no matter how real that constructed world seems. It is the world built on a small point of view, in a limited place, frozen in time. The expansive, present mind builds no such construction but simply exists with awareness.
There’s nothing wrong with the egoic mind. The ego is necessary for us to function, to know what others are and what is mine. However, the egoic mind is a limited resource, with limited vision. It makes patterns and drives those patterns deeper. This limits creativity, flexibility, wisdom, and the ability to use intelligence in a manner most conducive to constructive change in our lives.
An Opening to Newness and Expanded Points of View
The bottom line is that we, as humans, are here to grow. We can put immense pressure on ourselves to look or operate in a certain way. We can experience deep trauma, and this can tarnish or obstruct our growth. Being open is all about releasing and allowing something unknown to take place. If we are rooted in the past and rooted in a mold of who we think that we are, we never give ourselves the room to be able to become who we are supposed to be. Our purpose is never fulfilled and we fall into a more robotic means of operating. We are meant to live and to love and express ourselves fully. We deserve to live lives full of grace, wonder, and magic. Open your mind and your heart to a better more expansive perspective and feel yourself blossom!
So I invite you to take a seat on the bank, enjoy the freshness of the present, and begin the journey of spiritual awakening with a spiritual retreat in Sedona.