30 Jul Awaken to the Gift of Every Moment Through Soft Vigilance
THE PRESENT MOMENT is what we perceive in the here and now for the first time; yet the present seems mundane when the experience remains the same — we seek what makes the continuum of time verge towards the new and exciting.
To see where we are with a fresh perspective takes consistent will, gratitude, and faith. Because as corny as it is, the present moment is a gift from a source we can’t comprehend.
Why then are we merely trying to get through the day, to get to some future that will be just as unsatisfactory if approached with the same mindset? Because we don’t see the present for what it is.
When we shut our eyes and just listen to the ebb and flow of creation, we recognize that there’s a void that material gain can’t fill, nor social media, even the love from another individual. These things are secondary; first, we must explore within to better understand how to explore without.
What is it you truly want out of this moment, and every moment that will come? Is it a sense of peace within your soul? Is it honesty with yourself, so you may be honest with others? Creative expression, or most importantly, love for who you truly are?
Listening takes us in so that we may truly feel what’s inside. When we close our eyes and focus on the flow of our breath, we’re attuning our senses to the rhythm of our heart.
Perhaps we need to close our eyes to wake up existentially, an awakening like that which the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, sought thousands of years ago.
The Great Secret
A goal stood before Siddhartha, a single goal: to become empty, empty of thirst, empty of wishing, empty of dreams, empty of joy and sorrow,
writes Hermann Hesse in his novel Siddhartha.
Dead to himself, not to be a self any more, to find tranquility with an emptied head, to be open to miracles in unselfish thoughts, that was his goal. Once all of my self was overcome and had died, once every desire and every urge was silent in the heart, then the ultimate part of me had to awake, the innermost of my being, which is no longer my self, the great secret.
The great secret.
In the depths of our innermost self, each of us possesses the key to the great secret of our existence.
We rarely take the time to do nothing but dig deep within ourselves, even just for a few moments of our day. I don’t have time; we tell ourselves, me as much as anybody else. We’re so busy going through the motions — living — that we forget why we’re here in the first place, to live.
We’re constantly looking for the next thing, the break, the trip, the moment out there. But how many days left do we have to just survive?
What are we here for if not to find meaning in the moment that we’re in, regardless of what that moment entails? This is the essence of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a term that’s become increasingly popular — we hear it all the time, but what does it really mean?
While it might mean different things in varying contexts, its underlying theme I believe is “Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis,” writes Dr. John Fox In the book Mindfulness and the Arts Therapies: Theory and Practice.
I like Dr. Fox’s description, as the present experience is really ours to determine; but if we don’t like where we are, we’re merely looking for something else which can never fulfil us.
We don’t know where to search for what might make us happy. But is happiness even what we’re after? Or is it something else, like fulfilment, or creative expression, or just somebody to hear us, really hear us?
Continual Renewed Interest With Soft Vigilance
Some of our greatest insights about what to do with our lives come when moving our body — perhaps on a walk through a park or pushing ourselves in the gym.
We’re not just focusing on every step which hits the pavement; our mind naturally wanders, too. Then it returns to focus on the rep or the step, like a dog playfully returning to its human after fetching a stick and straying.
Mindfulness expert Ellen Langer refers to this practice as soft vigilance in her book The Power of Mindful Learning to describe allowing our mind room to breathe, as long as we continue to gently bring it back to the present.
Instead of being hyper focused on the present moment, it’s okay to allow our mind some room to breathe, as long as we continue to return to where we are, physically and spiritually. It’s our mind’s ebb and flow of wandering and returning when an insight, an awakening, strikes.
In soft vigilance, we remain open to novelty. We see the present experience we’re in as dynamic and interesting, even if we’ve done it a thousand times before.
This bringing of our awareness to what interests us, as interest derives from interesse, meaning “be between,” or within, constitutes the underlying theme of mindfulness.
Our current experience is something to be explored, not merely concentrated on. At work, you’re doing something you’ve done a thousand times. But this moment is brand new — how can you see it as such?
You are brand new. Who would you like to be? Exploration of the present leads to creativity, as we connect the dots of life in brand new ways. We need both the time to do, move, and act, and the time to pause, be still, and reflect.
Meditation is a timeless practice to engage in soft vigilance, as we’re constantly bringing our mind back to the rhythm of our breath and what it means to be alive in this body as if for the first time.
Healing Through Meditation
While meditating, it’s reasonable to believe we’ve failed if our mind wanders. However, my attitude towards meditation changed when I heard author and healer Dr. Joe Dispenza on Jay Shetty’s podcast, On Purpose.
“I remember always being trained that we think getting distracted is taking us away from meditation,
Dr. Dispenza says.
When actually, the awareness that you are distracted is meditation. The problem is the thought that comes after. Like, I can’t meditate. It’s too hard. No, on the other side of that thought is your healing.
Perhaps in the same regard, healing, fulfillment, and joy derive from the awareness that we’re distracted from our present experience when we’re simply counting on the next step of the journey to bring the change we desire.
Like the difficultly of remaining present during meditation, the challenges that we face, the ups and downs, they’re all part of the great secret.
Everything we do deserves to be explored without preconceived notions. To understand what we genuinely want out of this life, we must attune our senses to how we feel, how our work fulfils us, how we’re interacting with our innermost self on a moment-to-moment basis. Then we may realize what the world needs, and what we’re able to give.
It’s up to us to embrace all of life with the same enthusiasm and renewed interest. Nothing is given, not today, not our sight, and not our breath. Every second is a gift. Meaning won’t arise from letting them go to waste.