Flowing With Life
How often do we find ourselves bypassing or resisting the present moment? Whether we are aware or not, we often miss the moment that is occurring right before our eyes. We may be so fixated on how things “used to be” or how they “should be” that the current moment passes without ever experiencing its fullness.
In fact, if we stay unaware of this, our whole life can pass right by us, never truly experiencing it, merely living in our heads the whole time. This, to me, is the devastating truth that can happen when we live unconsciously. I too was seduced into the unconscious lure of living my life purely through thought until I began practicing mindfulness. Somehow many of us have grown addicted to our own mental movie of “The Way Things Were” or “What Lies Ahead.” It is through intention, the cultivation of mindfulness (present moment living) and conscious teachings that we can wake up from our sleep.
Real life unfolds on a moment to moment basis and we can choose to pay attention with awareness, interest, and an attitude of open acceptance to our lives. Our life that can be witnessed and felt through our senses, feelings/emotions, and thoughts.
Last week, my family and I went on a wonderful Caribbean vacation. We were surrounded by magnificent turquoise water, soft sand, warm sun, kind natives, and beauty that could be found everywhere you look. Isn’t it so much easier to stay present and feel awake in moments that are pleasing and full of happiness? However, living life to its fullest, includes being fully present for all its moments — neither preferring the good nor rejecting the bad. It is about staying fully aware, experiencing and accepting whatever presents itself in the moment.
Plain and simple — life is as it is and it is purely the way that we interpret it that informs how we see it. Our perception of life mostly comes from our past conditioning (how we were raised, cultural beliefs and past experiences) and it this conditioning that creates our beliefs. When we become fully aware of our limiting beliefs and become curious about our perceptions, there is room to grow and change.
Life is constantly changing and presenting us with moments to grow if we can see them as such. Our Caribbean vacation took an interesting turn when my daughter got food poisoning the first night of our trip. This event had the potential to put a huge damper on our vacation; however, practicing moment-to-moment awareness allowed the vacation to unfold naturally. It was through my daughter’s lead that I learned even more what it means to enter flow.
Kids, in general, are in the present moment, fully embracing what they are doing while they are doing it. They aren’t attached to certain expectations and haven’t lived long enough to fully buy into false beliefs/perceptions that we struggle with in adulthood. They are so close to their authentic, natural state. My daughter was sick with food poisoning in a beautiful resort with innumerable activities and fun at every corner. Never once did she question why she was the one who got sick. She wasn’t attached to a certain vision of how she planned her trip to be — LOL.
She simply accepted the “as-is” of her situation and naturally flowed with it — not resisting it. In doing so, she was able to continue to have fun and allow herself to be nurtured. By the end of the trip, she was laughing that she knew the location of every bathroom in the whole resort. She handled this situation with ease, joy and an open hearted acceptance. It was through her beautiful example that I too surrendered to the present moment.
I could have easily been consumed with fearful thinking about her food poisoning such as “Now the whole trip may be ruined. What if she is really sick and we are far from home?” The stories could have gone on and on. Instead I chose to embrace the present moment like her. Not to say that fear based thoughts didn’t enter my mind; however, I witnessed the thoughts and choose to see them as thoughts and not reality.
The reality was that my daughter was sick in that moment and I truly had no idea how long the food poisoning would last. I had no idea how the trip would pan out but I was sure that if I perceived this event through a lens of fear/lack (why does this happen to me? My whole vacation is ruined, etc.) then indeed my experience would reflect my thoughts.
Living mindfully, means showing up for all of life, releasing all of our expectations of how things ought to be, and allowing life to unfold naturally on its own with absolute trust in its unfolding. This is not to be confused with being passive to life. Quite on the contrary, it takes commitment, intention and astute presence to actively engage with life.
My daughter’s experience with food poisoning was an opportunity for myself, my daughter, my son and husband to practice equanimity — to see life as it is and release our need to categorize it as “good or bad, “acceptable or unacceptable.” Entering the present moment and flowing with life as it presents itself is a gift. This quality of “entering flow” can be cultivated and is the path to freedom. When we let go of expectations, we can engage in life.
When I released my expectation of how I pictured my family vacation to be, I made room for what actually was and was able to see the beauty in the midst of a challenge. I saw my daughter and her warrior spirit. I saw how easily she could flow with life and I marveled at her ease and full acceptance of the present moment. I saw the beauty in each breath she took as she slept in my arms. I saw her having fun swimming and playing in the sun despite the food poisoning. I saw the compassion of my son as he cared for his sister. I saw the unconditional love my husband showed for our family. I would have missed all of this if I were caught in my thoughts and resisting the present.
All of the energy that it takes being consumed with thoughts and “what if’s” is freed up and room is created for spontaneity, joy and gratitude.
I am so grateful for the gift of mindfulness and how it has transformed my life and the lives of so many others. I can’t think of a better way to express my deepest gratitude than to intentionally show up for all of life’s moments and embrace the present without attachment or expectation — only full-on acceptance, open heartedness, and deep trust.
It is from this place that we can navigate a life that is in full alignment with our deepest self. This is my hope for all of us.