There is a big difference between your attention being caught in the world of your mind and being fully here for your life. If you are like most people, for most of your life your attention has been following your thoughts wherever they go, to the point that you believe you are your thoughts. This cuts you off from an alive, intimate connection with Life. As you discover how to relate to your mind rather than from it, you will have more and more of those moments where you are fully here for Life, opening again to what Joseph Campbell calls “the rapture of being alive.”
With all the things you want and with all of the things you wish would happen, to be fully alive is what you most deeply long for. But the mind believes that to open into life is to let go of control and that is very scary. It believes that if you relax into life, then something bad will happen or nothing will happen. I have been exploring awakening with people for over 30 years, and I have observed that, even though most people have a fear of opening to life, when they move through the fear, they find that unhooking their attention from their stories about life and actually experiencing their life as it is unfolding is completely safe.
It is important to know that freeing your attention from the world of struggle in your mind and being present for what is showing up in your life is not about being passive. It is about letting go of reacting so you can respond from the depth of wisdom you carry when you are not caught up in your thoughts. It is understanding that life is giving you the experiences you need to recognize and see though your conditioned self. You can then use your mind for the wonderful tool it is rather than being lost in it.
It is also understanding that Life is for us. Einstein said that the most important question we can ask is, “Is the Universe friendly?” His answer was, “Yes!” Our world does not always appear to be a friendly place. Human beings do unspeakable things to one another and to the earth itself. Life includes pain, loss and death. But the Universe is ultimately friendly in the sense that it is for life, supporting its unfolding in ways we can’t even comprehend, let alone see.
In exploring the ultimate friendliness of life, Stephen Levine gave the example of getting down on the ground to watch an ant war. It is violence at work with heads and limbs being torn apart and lives destroyed. And yet, if you stand up and step back, you see that baby birds are being fed from the body parts and that a deeply buried seed will now be able to germinate because of the dirt that was moved by the ants. He said the longer he is alive, the harder it is for him to say what is grace and what is tragedy.
When you stand back far enough, you will see that Life is for life in all its forms, including human beings. And it weaves the opposites of dark and light into a dance that is orchestrated for the emergence of conscious life. This means that whatever is happening in your daily life is for you. There is no accident who your boss is, who your mate is, the kind of body you have, what your health is, the financial situation you are in. Remember, life is set up, to bring up what has been bound up, so it can open up, to be freed up, so you can show up for life!
So right now, take a moment and notice where there is holding in your body. Allow it to soften and relax. Then lift your eyes and look around you. This is no ordinary moment. All the millions of moments of your life have brought you to this moment. And even if you have been in this place a thousand times, in this moment it is different than any other time you have been here.
Let it in. Let life in. This is the only moment where life happens, and everything you long for and everything you are comes from being right here, right now. Of course, you will drift back into your thoughts about life, but moments such as these matter. And at times you will be challenged by life which will bring up pain. The invitation is to ground in the moment and ask life, “What am I ready to see here?” And if you are still caught, place your attention elsewhere. Be present as you go outside, or read a book, or take a shower. One day in the not too distant future, you will be able to be present for all of you and for all of life!