present

Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply. –Thich Nhat Hanh

A mystical experience is when the mind completely merges with the present moment, it is a glimpse of enlightenment.   What does it mean to be present?  It means to see things just as they are and as they arise.  A lot of the time the mind gets in the way, it asks the question “why is this happening?”  and begins to create theories, labels, categories, analysis, ect.  For most, this is a completely natural reaction, but holding on to judgments of the moment at hand will constantly keep you in a past state.

Through work one can become more present, in this case the work is the yoga practice, asana and breath.  Through asana you engage the body, lengthen the breath, and begin to observe the mind.   As your body moves through asana, notice the sensations and feelings that arise, notice how you breathe, notice your thought patterns.  Observe your body, mind, and breath without judgments or labels of good/bad/easy/hard.  Let go of judgments so that you can see the moment just as it is and as it arises.  Through yoga you learn to stay attentive and focused, that is the work on your path of inquiry into the present moment. 

See things as they are and simply be with whatever is appearing in the immediate experience. When you let yourself be present, you let go of irrational thought and dwelling on the past.  When you are present the ordinary becomes profound, and you see yourself, others, the world as it is.  You see true reality.  You have a mystical experience.

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One thought on “present

  1. Once last summer during a meditation retreat at the NYC Shambhala Center, I had these experiences of excruciating beauty. With no warning, the ordinary sunlight on the wooden floor suddenly shone with such brilliance and radiating warmth that it was just killing me, penetrating me to the core. This reminded me that there was a line in the Shambhala chant book about the “luminosity” of phenomena.

    When I had first started meditating and encountered this before, I thought it was just the way artists see things. I’d never entirely stopped looking at the world this way, but it fell further and further into shadow over the years. But now it was all back. What I’d discovered earlier was that this luminosity and beauty is always there and always available even in the plainest & “ugliest” settings, but we are numbed to it by the “self.” In a one-on-one session, the senior teacher, Acharya Emily Bower, said that this luminosity was as I thought.

    On the down side, walking through NYC after meditating all day & night was like being a raw egg with no shell and thrown out on a hot sidewalk. I felt every single person’s individual energy. I saw and felt everyone’s particular neurosis. I felt everyone’s violence or pathos. I could sense everyone’s trip or script playing. It was way more overwhelming than anything else I’d ever seen or felt. The teacher warned us about this and said that is why in Shambhala they say you have a soft naked heart in front but a strong back at the same time.

    Getting on the subway was even more intense with so many people so close by and all of their singular sadnesses, exhaustions, fears, anxieties, etc. Meanwhile, the reflected light off the shiny metal handholds and windows was, in its own way, almost too beautiful to bear. One of the other senior teachers, Acharya Arawana, had said once that we had to leave behind our cocoons, and this was just a flash of that kind of awareness.

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