PEACE OF MIND - PART 2 OF 3
Everyone who knows me, knows Sam. Sam is my very precious big black 14 year old Labrador Retriever. Fourteen is old for a big dog. When he was a pup he was game for long walks, long swims, retrieving tennis balls and toys, rides in my truck, horse visits, and endless wrestling. As he has gotten older he has developed arthritis and I am happy just to have him walk along with me after he pulls himself to his feet ever so slowly and somewhat painfully. But don’t tell him he’s slow. He thinks getting up and going for a walk is still fun. I look at him as we’re walking and think gosh, he’s not going to be around a whole lot longer. That thought make me sad. Meanwhile he’s walking along and thinking boy, this walking with Richard stuff sure is fun. Do we have to go in already? Wait a sec, Richard, I need to pee on this bush.
The difference is that he is in the moment. And I’m not. That is really a major difference. He’s enjoying the walk. I’m worrying about the future. My question is who is happier?
There was a writer in the 60’s and 70’s, a product of that time, named Carlos Castaneda. (If you weren’t there, you have to take my word for it.) Part author, part ethnologist, he spent years among the Yaqui Indians in Northern Mexico and wrote a series of books about his many visits there and the time he spent with a sorcerer, a brujo, named Don Juan Mateus. Don Juan took Castaneda under his wing and spoke endlessly to him about the secrets of the life of a sorcerer and what it was that made him powerful. Carlos Castaneda followed him and wrote down the steps ever so carefully. It took many journeys to Mexico but eventually Don Juan gave Castaneda a glimpse; the key, Don Juan said, was to live like a warrior. If Castaneda could live like a warrior he would be powerful beyond his imaginings.
Except for one small item: Castaneda had no idea how to live like a warrior and Don Juan would not or could not reveal what that meant until a few more trips to Mexico and several books had been written. At last Don Juan finally told Castaneda that to live like a warrior was to live with the absolute knowledge and the firm conviction that every day could be your last. You got that, Bucko? It can all be over in a blinding flash. And so you had better appreciate every moment, every meal, every smile, every kiss. Every time you walk outside in the morning and smell the air. It can be the last minute of your life. Don’t waste time on the small stuff. Most of it is small stuff.
Be in the moment. It is ultimate power. We know that, right? Except that we all have to keep learning it even though it appears in Buddhism, Hasidism, Native American religions, and the Hindu teachings. And that’s just for starters.
Be here now. Three not very complex words but much easier said than done.
Eastern religions, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, have had a much easier time expressing these truths than the very linear Western teachings. Many writers and philosophers and thinkers have tried to explain Taoism and Zen despite the challenges of making clear something that is essentially unquantifiable. Alan Watts, a revered Zen teacher from England who lived in the early part of the 20th century, explained it this way: “Zen does not confuse spirituality by thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
Another way of saying: “Have you eaten your lunch? Then wash your bowl.”
The Hasidic Rabbis of the middle ages who taught in Eastern Europe and who spread the mystical Kaballistic teachings spoke of the importance of being in the moment to being truly alive and in living each moment, no matter how mundane.
It is intimately bound up with mindfulness. The essence of mindfulness is being fully present in right now. You don’t want to know the number of times I’ve found myself coming back from the pasture and suddenly thinking did I lock the gate? When I was locking the gate I was already thinking about getting to the office or finishing a chapter or about a meeting I was going to have to take. Turn around and go back enough times and you learn to do something that forces you to focus your awareness. For me it has become rattling the lock after it’s fastened.
But if you don’t address this moment, you are not living your life. Being in the moment means looking neither forward nor backward. It means being so intently and intensely in the moment that there is no other reality.
There is no stronger magic than being in the moment. And believe me, it’s hard. Being in the moment is probably the only way in which you will be successful living a life with no regrets.
In the process of being in the moment, stop trying to be perfect because it’s only when you stop trying to be perfect that you can accept yourself as you are. When you can accept yourself and the world as they are you can achieve a degree of detachment and let go of the feelings of failure, of hurt, and of pain that plague each of us every day.
There are some things about yourself you don’t like. We have two choices: change them or accept them. You don’t have to change them right this minute. While this is a culture that operates on instant gratification, nothing happens right now. But get on the path. Losing weight, getting a job that you love, studying yoga, whatever it is, start now. Get on the path. It is only when you are on the path that you can obtain power and get a glimpse of what lies ahead. Jordan Peterson, in his masterful book 12 RULES FOR LIFE, clearly lays out the importance of striving to make your life better.
Self-acceptance and mindfulness…two important elements in the creation of peace of mind. With peace of mind comes confidence. And there is no stronger magnet than self confidence. It’s uncanny and unmistakeable, and it will radiate from you like gamma rays from a chunk of uranium.
I will be posting part three of this series on Peace of Mind in about a week Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section or email me at email@example.com.