is your actual life. And it's good. And beautiful. And nothing is lacking. Philosophical hogwash, you say. Doesn't she know that I have problems? That I'm sick or broke or broken hearted? That I have pressure and responsibilities? That I'm wounded or depressed or barely able to get out of bed? And I say yes, I understand. I understand the nature of problems - situations that must be dealt with. I have those myself. But how many of those can actually be fixed or resolved this red-hot minute? Really ask yourself, In this moment, do I have a satisfactory solution to this problem? It's kind of a trick question, because if you did, if your solution was really one that you felt good about, you'd either be happily doing it or have a plan to do it, in which case you'd feel peaceful and enjoying this present moment of not-doing-it-yet.
I think you will notice that when a situation truly calls for your immediate response, you're able to rise to the challenge. When faced with issues of life and death, the human animal becomes fiercely present and open to inner resources they didn't know they had. People living in war zones are present. They have to be. Most of us are not living in war zones, and yet our biology is often behaving as if we are, because our minds are running the stories of our problems, driven by fear and other feelings, which are driven by deeper, often unconscious feelings of a perceived threat of abandonment, or lack of control and/or safety - as if our very survival is at stake.
Late last fall, I had a hard time eating. Everything seemed to make my stomach hurt. I considered a trip to the doctor, but decided instead to listen to my body and just eat what I felt like it wanted. We were heading toward the holidays and I was plagued with the knowledge that my niece was terminally ill, as was my horse. While I don't remember having clear negative stories in my head, my bodymind felt out of control - because it was. I couldn't know what would happen, to who and when, as I headed out of town. This not-knowing, these out of control, up-in-the-air situations, seemed to by-pass my conscious awareness and head straight for my stomach.
By the time I arrived back home from my holiday travel, my stomach was fine. I was eating normally - just in time for a big Christmas dinner. But I couldn't help but notice what my body had done. Yes, the situations were understandably challenging and unarguably true, but my stories about them, and their manifestation in my stomach, were strictly Shelly-created.
It turns out that my niece's funeral the following March and my horse's passing a few weeks later were not the dark-cloud days that my bodymind had conjured up and rehearsed. Instead they were two of the most profoundly beautiful and potently spiritual days of my life. I remember the bright, rich quality of each day and how the colors around me seemed more vivid. I remember a sense being completely still inside, yet highly alert and aware at the same time. And I remember feeling acutely alive - that kind of alive that only happens when everything else falls away, time stands still, and now is all there is. Now is all that matters.
And I'm noticing more and more, that I don't have to wait for moments like these before I can be fiercely present, because Presence is waiting - with me, inside of me, all around me, all the time. All it takes is a subtle glance in its direction, and all of a sudden it's like I've stepped away from a really compelling movie in a dark movie theatre and out into the bright light of day with a sense of, Oh right. This is what's real. Or as if someone just cranked up the big cosmic dimmer switch. The birds start singing louder, my dog seems even cuter, and a flood of blessings washes over me - not because I look for them, but because they're already there.
This subtle shift beyond the stories about my life, places me firmly in my life, as life. And in such moments, that red-hot minute . . . it's perfect.
When the compulsive striving away from the Now ceases, the joy of Being flows into everything you do. The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace,… You have found a life underneath your life situation. Elkhart Tolle
Heaven On Earth Farm
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P.O. Box 1233
Pickens, SC 29671