“How to be at ease with the present; to drink wine just for its lightness on the tongue; to linger over an ordinary, unfussy meal; to not want, want, want without end.” —Ligaya Mishan, author of essay “French Connections: Many years ago, a simple meal became a lesson in how to be in the world.”
The rain came in buckets, then steadily, then gushed, then steadily again, and continued doing so for nearly two hours, Bend, at least in our neighborhood, received the moisture it has been craving all summer long. For two hours. And as I type, the rain clouds keep rolling toward us, so perhaps we will have even more to savor.
I share this because while we may have wanted rain, rain that falls for more than a mere moment, since late May, we had no more control over Mother Nature bringing a rainstorm our way than we have control over other people. Such a comparison reflects that indirectly, our actions can inspire or detrimentally influence a change in another, just as climate change is influenced by our choices in how we care for the planet, but to live a life wanting a particular outcome pulls us away from the now. Because whenever we want, we don’t see what we have.
One might argue, we know what we have that is why we want, but again, we aren’t fully seeing the now if we are imagining what we want. We cannot hold our attention in two tenses. And when we dance back and forth, we don’t live deeply and experience fully all that the present moment is capable of giving.
And that is just it, the present is a gift, but if we are so focused on what we want, or don’t have, or trying to be something we don’t think we already are, we can never appreciate and savor the deeply fulfilling life sitting in front of us, waiting to be seen, appreciated and enjoyed every single day.
An ease of being is a conscious choice and is one of the benefits of exercising our mindfulness practice. To live with ease is not to be stagnant, or let life pass you by, quite the contrary. In actuality, an ease of being is to live life fully. Why? Because we are fully present. We are able to see, experience and drink up all that is occurring in that moment. We are fully aware. Having unpacked our expectations and let them go, we remove the burden they brought to our ability to fully engage and can now be open to all that crossed our life journey.
Let’s take a closer look and how we welcome an ease of being into our daily life:
How to live in a state of ease of being:
- Let go of wanting
I have found this to be the quickest way to become aware of how often I am not holding myself in the present. As soon as I, let’s use the example I shared at the top of the post, want rain, I realize I am not seeing and appreciating what is right now. Whether it is sunny or even smoky, clearly the latter not being wanted at all and something we experienced quite a bit of this past August, I bring myself to the present and, in the instance of smoky skies, explored what opportunities I was being afforded. As many of you know, since I was going to have to be inside more often due to the poor AQI, even on days off, I chose to, leisurely and with ease – no rush, or have-tos – organize, clean-out and assess nearly all of my closets.
It’s not that I am someone who loves to clean. I am not. It is not because I am someone who loves to organize. I am not, but because I sought out clarity of what I had, needed and could utilize better, stepping into this task without pressure made it enjoyable and gave me more space – mentally and physically – that brought more calm because it gave me focus. My ease of being held me in the moment of each task fully, so I could see what I had, gaps that existed and just enjoyed where whatever I found took my attention.
Now you may be wondering, If I don’t want, how am I going to grow, evolve, change and reach my goals? Valid question, and in asking it, it is the misunderstanding of what ‘being’ is all about. Being is what we are ‘doing’ when we are present. In episode #350 we explore in detail (1) how to strengthen and deepen our ability to be present, (2) the benefits, and (3) what being present looks like in our lives. And at the core of being present and thus being able to be at ease is, as Eckhart Tolle teaches, being deeply rooted in ourselves. We become deeply rooted in ourselves by bringing calm into our lives, so that we can gain clarity and thus make the best decisions to honor our true selves. This is when contentment begins to enter our lives and we begin to experience its many benefits.
- Practice simple awareness.
In other words, hold your full attention in the present moment, taking it all in without expectation, without reflecting, without wondering, just hold your mind open. Listen to episode #326 to learn more about simple awareness.
- Refrain from ‘trying’
Nomi Bachar, a self-actualization and executive leadership coach, explains how ‘trying’ actually is detrimental to elevating the quality of our life. “All of the ‘trying’ is a major interference with the flow. What flow? The flow of our breath, our energy, our feelings, our life force.” When we are trying, we are not accepting. At first, this was confusing to me as well, but then the analogy Bachar used with the three phrases of the grand cycle of life clarified what we are thwarting when we try as opposed to embrace with an openness that is accepting of what is.
The three phases of the grand cycle are easiest to see when we look to nature. Creating, maintaining, and dissolving.
We see creating beginning with the arrival of spring. We see maintaining occurring during the summer months where there is no cold or freezing, and we see the dissolving occurring with the denouement of autumn into winter. A dissolving that is necessary in order for rejuvenation, rest and reviving to have the necessary time to begin again in the spring.
Such a cycle can take a full twelve months, but it can also take just 12 seconds – when we draw our breath, hold and then exhale. The exact same cycle. Each phase needs the others to exist, to continue, to thrive.
When we accept, we are acknowledging where we are and what is happening fully so that we can assess, we can understand and then wisely make the next best decision. We give ourselves time to know what is needed.
So, for example, if we break our leg, by accepting it, we are not saying we are happy we broke our leg, but rather seeing what we need in this moment, and that most likely is time to heal. Rest. We may want to be up and walking immediately, but what we want and what we need are different, and wanting doesn’t hold us in the present. Accepting what is gives us the mental space, in other words, clarity gained through awareness, to respond wisely to the situation in which we find ourselves. By letting go of ‘trying’ we stop interfering with the natural flow of the life force that we have always contained within us. And Bachar goes on to say, this choice, accepting the three phrases of the grand cycle of life, is sustained by “a much more effective, organic, and authentic inner source.”
I recognize this shift from letting go of ‘trying’, letting go of ‘wanting’ is nearly antithetical to the culture many of us live. Thus, it will feel foreign and uncomfortable at first to let go of what have understandably likely become habits in how we think and how we live; however, with intentional practice, by allowing life to flow, we are also letting ourselves be fully who we are and thus aligning with the opportunities that can now be fully seen and experienced, and thus embraced which will feel magical at moments, previously once thought to be impossible outcomes and gifts, but indeed absolutely what life can reveal if we just stop ‘trying’ to force our vision of what should be. Because that is what we are doing when we ‘want’, when we ‘try, when we are not in the present moment.
Let me give you one more example of trying versus ease of being. Let’s use the metaphor of sport. Trying looks like the athlete wanting to win the game, wanting to beat their opponent, wanting to win the championship. Ease of being is to bring your best and fullest capabilities. To not let your mind get in the way, which could be anxieties, doubts, negative critical thoughts. All of these are pulling you away from the present moment, but if you instead follow the advice of being your best self – being the athlete in that particular sport that you are and you have trained to be, then the outcome doesn’t matter because you will feel at peace with how you showed up. You may be saying, Shannon, you cannot say that. You don’t know what it feels like to be on the field. Yes, I do. I have been fortunate to win championships, I have come close to winning championships and fell short, both individually and as part of a team, and I know that when you are trying, you are forcing and that is when you are taken out of your game and sportsmanship goes out the window, and you cannot feel good about how you played after engaging in such a way. Sometimes, you are not going to be the best athlete or team of athletes who work together on the field/court/etc., but that doesn’t mean the experience is a loss.
As soon as we refrain from each of these, we will find an ease of being that will delight and then ignite your life in the most wonderful of ways, every single day. And whatever the outcome, you will have found a mode of travel that enables you to find even more moments to enjoy and savor. Case in point, just before sitting down to edit this piece, I looked out my window to the tall deep purple hollyhock to see a hummingbird poking about for nectar, and the dance of acquisition brought a smile to my face. Look up, look around, be present and discover a world full of gifts to savor.
Wishing you a wonderful week and a most wonderful start to this new (unofficially) fall/spring season.
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An exploration of Simple Awareness, a key skill discussed in the episode.