Sitting on a beach front cafe in Goa, drinking a chai and listening to the ceaseless motion of the ocean drawing and tumbling again and again, it feels like it’s breathing. Inhaling and exhaling, forever.
“How long are you away for?” Travellers have asked me. “I’m not going anywhere, there is no ‘away’, my abode is in the Here and Now” I often reply. It sounds obvious but when our attention is busy, scattered and fragmented between memories of the past, future expectations or apparent concerns, there doesn’t seem to be much room to be truly rooted in this moment, as though it’s just a hairline between seconds.
In essence it’s about being one with all that is, here present now. There are two key terms mentioned in the title that refer to this;
Presence – To be fully in this moment without thoughts of elsewhere or the imprint of the psychological mind giving an interpretation of what is experienced, allowing a deeper clarity of seeing and openness to emerge.
Alignment – Through presence we move back into harmony with the totality of all that is, The One Life, the Universe and beyond, manifesting as all this diversity from the one infinite Source.
What that means for us is that it opens an inner space for creativity, love, effortlessness, abundance and dreams to be realized. The fragrance of our natural state.
The question is, can we confirm this for ourselves? Here’s some ways in which we can move closer to finding out;
1. Body Awareness & the ‘I am’ Practice
Take time each day to be aware of the life inside your body. Notice the breath rise and fall, the pulsating heart and the perceiving of the senses, happening all by itself. This simple exercise helps us to relax and bring our attention back to the present moment. It can be done anywhere, eyes open or not.
This can also be expanded into the ‘I am’ practice. Notice how emotions are observed, as well as thoughts and the voice of the mind but don’t identify. Simply feel ‘I exist, I am here’. The pull of the mind will gravitate in the direction of where ever the attention is usually drawn, such as memories, fears or future surrounding our constructed identity. It may feel like effort to bring the attention back to ‘I am here and Now’ but don’t fret. As soon we realize that we are not present, we are. Keep at it, this powerful practice is most useful for bringing us back to the eternal moment of Now as well as many other deeply beneficial insights such as awareness of thought patterns and the question Who is this ‘I’ ? (Atma Vichara)
2. Non Judgement
Don’t judge what is happening in life. A fragmented mind is an unhappy one. That is to say, the one who wants the moment to be other than it is, is judging it to be wrong in some way. The psychological mind (Ego) has several tactics where the present moment could be ‘so much better’ like memories of awesome people, future plans of being somewhere else, wanting more attention, more money, more drugs and so on but it is always far away from where we are right now. Quietly smouldering whilst the idea of how wrong a situation is will only inflate the inner turmoil. Instead, start by taking responsibility and accept we are here in this moment. Let it be, then make go from there.
A popular term, frequently misunderstood but very important. Essentially, it points to acceptance. For a long time our psychological mind has built up concepts surrounding the person, namely what we do and what happens to us. Holding onto this conceptual identity, objects and other people in relation to that identity creates attachment and expectations. Instead, find that which is permanent. The one awareness, the one consciousness, the one life. But what does this mean without experiential confirmation?
The compulsion for the Universe to evolve helps us to grow and change but naturally we get attached to things, people and ideas. It’s like standing in the middle of a stream and holding a log that passes us by. It feels like effort to keep it close and waves of resisting water form around it.
Just be one with this moment. Let go of what doesn’t serve us and return to the the greater flow of Life that knows what’s best. Magic is in store for the one who boards this train. The fear that nothing will happen, people won’t love us or we’ll be lost comes from the mind’s desire for security and preservation of image. Surrender isn’t about indifference or defeat either. If unhappiness in a situation emerges, do something to change it but first we must accept that it is happening here and now.
The image of Jesus on the cross is a perfect embodiment of this truth and is a source of great and true strength. In his words “I have overcome the world”. In other words, I have overcome the mind. Who else can do it?
3. Stay Open and Trust
Every moment, interaction and experience offers a lesson and an opportunity. May it be relationships, change or strong emotional feelings, whatever, let it happen. Remaining open helps us to say Yes to infinite opportunities. It stimulates dormant expressions, sparks new connections with others, fosters compassion and spurs creativity. All of which already reside in us naturally.
For many of us, a traumatic time has led to something greater, with a life lesson learnt in the process. It is only in hindsight, that we look back in gratitude. Does this sound familiar? Know that an open heart in the face of pain and loss is a symbol of courage and an expression in the highest.
Trust that the Universe has our highest good at heart because in essence we are one spirit.
4. If it isn’t effortless, drop it.
Another water analogy, this time from the I Ching. Think of how water flows down hill. It follows the path of least resistance and if there’s a block it runs around the obstacle or if there’s a dead end, it backs up and finds another direction in which to flow.
In this way a harmonious life is discovered by staying present and listening to your intuition. Instead of wading upstream be patient and allow the universe time to work and manifest what is needed without clinging to the outcome. Remain empty and see what miracles arrive.
If effort is required and your present, the right amount of supportive energy will spring forth making the action fluid instead of a battle. Eventually, our intuition becomes so acute that it is natural in everyday life and our movement is in complete harmony with all that is, even in seeming chaos.
Remember, it’s effortless.
5. The voice in our head? Ignore it.
It’s the voice of our conditioning. Which means complete association with form, igniting the idea “I think, therefore I am” (Descartes). This belief is a volatile state because ultimately identification with the body is so strong, we think we are fallible and die with the body and therefore under constant threat from the ‘external world’. This core concept also attracts mental self definitions and self image of said form like a magnet, creating the assumed identity.
When conditions do not satisfy the psychological mind due to a developed belief in limitation (I’m not loved, worthy, don’t have enough money, friends, appreciation, recognition etc) notice the judgements, the wanting, the blaming, the justifying and the interpretation of events according and surrounding the identity. This is the Ego. A limited, small and fearful version of what we are. The false self.
There is however, an awareness in the background, unaffected and able to watch the shimmering, changing portrait of personality in silence. This is presence. Be here and feel the totality of the universe flow back into you. The powerful, Divine and infinite being that we are beyond any concept. Find it Now.
6. If resistance comes, you are onto something…
Quite simply, if you are resisting this present moment, you are being given an opportunity to expose another layer of the mind that wants the present to be other than it is. Instead of justifying your thoughts and tying yourself a certain role, fuelling and inflating the thoughts, notice that it can come, go and shift shape.
Keep quiet and watch. The noise of the mind will try to molest you but each time, we stand aside and watch we stop giving the monkey it’s juice so to speak. When it is thought that we can’t stand it anymore, stay strong it will soon be over. Another layer of unconscious behaviour will surface and dissolve in your presence. Honour it also. Just as an aeroplane needs resistance to fly, so it us with us.
But always ask the question, “What is watching this and remains untouched?”
7. Embrace the Unknown
“We are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty, but we must move on” – Martin Luther King
It’s undeniable that not knowing what’s about to happen is scary. The impulse to predict, hope and expect is natural. It’s equally natural to think that staying in this present moment means that we will walk around aimlessly without direction but this is mind play. Worry and anxiety will create a fear and a lack of trust. The thing with fear though is that it’s False Evidence Appearing Real. An immediate aid is to train your mind into knowing only the best will manifest for you without attachment to the outcome.
Support and direction manifest spontaneously when we are aligned with the one life, keeping it fresh, dynamic and open. Only our own experience can confirm this miracle. It may not unfold the way we would like to think but only the highest good is in store for the one who trusts the totality. Be brave, have courage, don’t give in and experience the rewards for yourself!
8. Attitude of Gratitude
The most important act we can ever give ourselves and to the world is thank you. Even if pain is felt, say thank you for we are being shown what is not serving us in our life and what we are not. That is the gift of the ego. As Buddha puts it “without suffering, there would be no enlightenment”.
Thanks for the nourishment of the body, the warm sun on our face, the lessons learnt, the breath, a good sleep, friends, loved ones, dancing all crazy, laughter, this life, this recognition of the infinite Self…all of it. Thank you.
And to all of you amazing beings reading this right now. Thank you. The purpose of this post is to share the peace and joy I feel in my heart at this time. If you have any comments, questions or know of any other practices that work, let me know too and share it!