LILLIAN CHARLES

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Right Now I am Here

Don't trip over what's behind you.

photo taken by Allie Morris of @verbhousecreative // for Atlanta jewelry designer @ashapateldesigns

photo taken by Allie Morris of @verbhousecreative // for Atlanta jewelry designer @ashapateldesigns

One of the life changing lessons I learned in my Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction (MBSR) course last fall was this: nothing exists outside of the present. Everything happens in the present.

So, I wrote and posted this sign in my home. It says "Right Now I Am Here" and underneath it reads...

“There is no such thing as existing in history or moments passed.
There is no crystal ball to look into to see the future.
All that is available is the present.
Suffering is wanting what is not available and not wanting what is available. 
Our contentment is based on our relationship with our thoughts.
We have the choice of “locking into” any thoughts that come across our stream of consciousness.
Separating emotionality from raw data brings clarity to make sound decisions based on core values.”

This isn't something that's grasped over night. I still get hung up on the previous week of mistakes (why did I eat all that sugar?) and important relationships lost from months and years ago. I still want what has already come to pass. But I know now that I have choices as to what I attach myself to...  a. the past, b. the concerns of the future or c. the absolute present. And I know that once I land on "c," the present, I can shift into gratitude mode.

Sound crazy ? Off the wall? Unobtainable? Here's a concrete example:

Over the past few days I've been wanting something that has already occurred (past.) I've been longing for a relationship, a feeling, a connection that has already taken place (past.) I felt this way all day yesterday. I felt like I was choking. I felt discarded and abandoned and punished because I wasn't getting to feel a love that was once available. Longing does that! It brings misery. When we want what we don't have or we don't want what we do have, suffering arises. It's a total mind fuck and it happens to all of us. So how do we wriggle out of unhappiness or feeling rejected?

We focus on the present.

My mind is often most clear when I'm teaching because my focus is on exactly what is available in the room in the moment. Last night, living in the moment looked like this...

...with a lump in my throat, I walk up to my teaching podium, climb onto my bike, crank the tunes, set the spotlight light on me. And I LIVE. I drown in the music. I swim in every beat (sound), I feel the course pebbled rubber of the handle bars beneath my hands (touch) and I feel fully the sweat beads that form at my temples, soon soaking my hair, face, chest, arms and beyond (sensation.) I take a deep inhale in and use my voice to cry out the very words that I need to hear.  

I tell my riders that each 8 count in the class will feel different. That if one 8 count feels horrible and it's hard and the resistance and the tempo feels like it's JUST TOO MUCH... it's okay. Both the resistance and the tempo will change. Judging ourselves on one 8 count and saying, "every 8 count of every song will feel this way" is damning. That mentality brings the past into the present and gets projected into the future. And then we live out that cycle of "holy shit! this is miserable!" 

Grounding ourselves in the sensations of the present, we can relieve ourselves from the pain of the past and/or the anxiety of the future.

Then comes in-the-moment gratitude.

My 64 year old parents were in class last night. As were some of my best friends whom I've met through teaching. As the sweat rolled down the back of my neck, my entire body beamed with pride over the community that was present. There was no pain or frustration concerning who was NOT in class. Only gratitude for what existed in the moment.

These are grande concepts. I'm not a mindfulness coach or a gratitude guru and I still wrestle with my thoughts... every fucking day. I actually still feel a tinge of sadness and longing as I write this post. But it's manageable. It's manageable because it's present-living and it's coupled with gratitude.

Next time you feel that simply awful sense of longing, notice the sights and sounds and sensations of where you are at present. Give thanks for something or someone in your life. Notice who and what is available in your world. Take note of your abundance.

I love you. I'm here for you. I'm grateful for you.