Sometimes the best medicine for suffering is a time out from our daily routine.
Living in the present moment –without agenda, without goal–might just be the hardest practice there is.
It’s easy to get caught up in modernity’s insistence on things happening in real-time, but the fact is some things require patience. Some things are indeed better with patience. Remember the sweet surprise of getting a love letter in your mailbox? You can’t rush that kind of pleasure.
Joy is recognizing that nothing is ever a dead end. We are constantly in fluid motion, navigating, re-setting the coordinates, making corrections according to the winds. Even if we appear to drift off course, wherever we find ourselves right now is the fruition of one set of circumstances and also the seed of something just about to begin. It takes courage to relax in the midst of not-knowing.
I’ve had a whirlwind of change recently, both personal and professional. The result is mind-boggling. I wake up sometimes and have no idea where I am.
This week I’m in Hawaii with my dear family, remembering the preciousness of our short time here on earth. I’m watching my mind get busy with all the things I should be catching up on, all the promises I’ve made that are just going to have to wait. These moments of shared history are what will make up the memories of our lives. What a shame it would be to miss out on them due to a distracted mind. Unfortunately, this is how many of us spend our lives: striving for a goal, wishing things to be different than they are.
If you worry too much about the destination, you may miss the present moment.
This is exactly what we cultivate in contemplative practice–like Ashtanga yoga or Shamatha sitting meditation. We practice recognising the presence of something other than the wandering, greedy, impatient flow of thoughts that urge us on to the next event. When you take up a daily practice, you build your mental muscles so that you remember to come back to the moment happening in real-time.
So, the medicine is this: relax and enjoy!
You’ll get there soon enough, and meanwhile, you might as well enjoy the view.