It has been said that after his enlightenment, the Buddha was met on the road by a man who noticed his extraordinary presence. This man asked, “Who are you? Are you a god?” “No,” the Buddha replied. “Well then, are you some kind of magician?” the man queried. “No,” the Buddha replied again. “Are you a man?” “No.” “Well, what then are you?” the man asked. “I am awake,” the Buddha said.
There was a time in your early childhood when you saw—deeply saw—your mother’s face, really tasted your food and were able to stay open to the flow of life. Whether you remember it or not, you experienced being fully connected with life. You didn’t need yourself or your life to be any different than what they were. Without the conditioned mind’s propensity for struggle, you were present for each moment. In other words, you were awake. You weren’t yet fully aware, but you were here. As you grew up, thoughts slowly filled up your mind, contracting your focus into thinking about life rather than being present for it.
You are reading this because you are on the journey back to an intimate and fully alive experience of your life. To get a glimpse of this, I invite you right now to place your finger on the side of your neck and find the spot where you can feel your heartbeat. For most people, it is at the end of your jaw bone, right below your ear. Rest your finger there for a few moments, feeling how steady and rhythmic your pulse is.
Now sense that same pulse in the people living in the buildings surrounding you and in the cars that are going by.
Now become aware that this rhythm is in the birds and animals that live in your neighborhood and in the flow of sap through the trees.
Expand your awareness and find it in the dance of night and day and the cadence of the tides. Allow yourself to experience life as rhythm, expanding and contracting, opening and closing.
Now come back to the pulse in your neck and realize that you are a part of this great rhythm and that every cell in your being vibrates in tune with this cosmic dance.
As you feel the pulse of life in your body, you begin to get glimmers of what it is like to be awake for life. This invites you to soar on the winds of awe, reverence and trust in this creative dance that is your life.
But if you are like most people, you have been sleep walking through your life. Even when you are slumbering in a mind that thinks it is separate from life, Life is inviting you to come back home to this moment. Breath by breath, step by step, it is inviting you to intimately and immediately connect with your life right here and now.
This experience of awakening to life is spoken about in practically every myth that has ever been written. Intimate connection with life is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the sleeping princess who awakens with a kiss, the Golden Fleece. With all your longing for a better body, a nicer mate, a lottery win, an easier job, what you truly long for is to consciously enter the creative flow of life.
What does that look like? I invite you, after you read the next few paragraphs, to lift your eyes and explore the space you are sitting in. First see it; really see it. Even if you have been in this space a thousand times, it is different. It is new. If your mind isn’t curious, pretend you are an alien who has come to inhabit a human body for just a few moments and you need to describe what Earth is like when you go home. Pay keen attention to what is. See lines and curves, colors and shadows. Feel the temperature of the air and hear the sounds around you.
This is it. This is the living moment of your life. Touch it with your attention. Open your awareness and feel it; experience it. Notice that the mind will want to think about what it is experiencing. Over and over again, with deep curiosity, simply bring your attention back to what is, right here right now.
Let this moment be enough. Let go of wanting, fearing, grasping and resisting and instead simply connect with life. In discovering how to rest in this moment, you rediscover a wellspring of creativity, safety and unlimited support, and a deep and abiding sense of belonging.
Now bring your attention into your body and find your breath. There it is, rising and falling, rising and falling. Watch your next breath arise and then watch it fade away. That breath is now in the past, never to be again for it belongs to the ‘already lived’—to the land of dinosaurs, ancient Egypt and second grade. Fully be with the next breath, for this is where it is all happening. You will again drift off into the mind, back into a conversation about life rather than the real thing. But that’s okay. Just keep returning to the experience of your breath and know that each moment of connection with what is is a moment of healing.
Be willing to gift yourself with at least a few minutes every day where you close your eyes and connect with your life. it could be listening to the sounds around you as they arise and pass away. It could be riding the waves of your breath. At the beginning, this can be very challenging as your attention is used to following thought wherever it goes. You may be able to really hear the music of the birds in your yard, only to have your thoughts take over again. Be kind and patient with yourself. A little bit of pure connection goes a long way.
You can also sprinkle moments of presence throughout your day, bringing you into immediate connection with your life. Look for moments where there is a pause – in the elevator at work, or your car at a stoplight, or waiting for your favorite program to come on. As you are willing to be, you will become a part of the healing that is needed on our planet.