Today you have been given the gift of a brand new day. 24 beautiful hours to live the life that you want to live. There is no one holding you back from living the life that you want to but you and once you realize that you can begin to truly live.
Today I say let’s stop making excuses for why we aren’t living the way we want to. Let’s stop blaming others for our unhappiness or standing in the way of our dreams. Let us recognize that our lives have been given to us as a gift and that we have the power to choose how we want to live them. Each 24 hours is ours to create our reality and be the people that we want to be in this world.
I have been spending far too much time feeling sorry for myself the past 24 hours. I hurt my leg and can’t walk and so I felt terrible. I spent all day yesterday being miserable because I couldn’t clean up or walk or do any of the things that I normally would do. I let one negative thought in about how I can’t walk and opened the door to a million others. “What if this lasts tomorrow too? Or for a week? What if I get really bitchy and miserable? What if I can’t write a good blog post or be a good mom? What if I get stiff and not so fit and able to breeze through my labor? What if I have to take a really long break and I forget how much I love exercise and become lazy? Why am I attached to my walking so much anyway? When did this happen? And on and on until I had placed myself in a completely depressed state of mind and could no longer feel happy at all.
I find this so timely for what I have been going through lately. I had been focusing a lot on meditation and mindfulness these days and reading a lot of books. The latest one I read was by Larry Rosenberg entitled Living in the Light of Death; On the Art of Being Truly Alive. This book had seemed to be completely relating and speaking to me. It is about living each moment fully and realizing the impermanence of everything in life and that ultimately we are all going to die. The practice of death awareness is not meant to bring you down or keep your focus on the fact that you are going to die, but to help you realize what you have in the present and to be truly grateful, living out each moment mindfully.
He talks in his book about different mind states and how we often bring suffering upon ourselves by piling up thoughts or allowing our mind to race. Often when we feel a feeling we form an opinion about that feeling as either good or bad and ideally we want only to feel good all of the time. He tells the story of a person being hit with two arrows, the first being the feeling and the second being the mind state. We can choose to be present with our feelings and experience the impermanence of them, watching them as a wave arising and then fading away. Physical pain or illness is unavoidable because we are only human. It can be thought of as the first arrow. The mind state that we add to the physical sensation however is like being hit with a second arrow. We add even more suffering to ourselves by allowing our mind to form opinions about the physical sensations and get lost in our thoughts of what might happen, deluding ourselves and losing the present moment.
In my case with my sore leg, the definite message for me was to SLOW DOWN and RELAX. Well, I did not want to do that! I wanted to enjoy my day and do all of the things that I had planned for myself. I had formed an opinion about the physical sensation as being bad and setting me back from being able to be happy and enjoy my day. Then I realized that just because I can’t walk, doesn’t mean I have to be miserable. I still have eyes that can see, I am alive and breathing and I have my beautiful daughters sitting with me on my lap as I read them stories. I don’t have to allow the physical pain and discomfort of my sore leg to make me suffer so deeply. I can still choose what I will do with that pain and practice being mindful of its impermanence. I may not have been able to choose whether or not to be hit with that first arrow, but I can choose to not allow myself to be hit with that second arrow and instead see the lesson given to me in needing to take a break from the things that I would normally do in order to have a ‘good’ day.
I think that so many times we carry this dualistic attitude in life and it is a major way that we all cause suffering for ourselves. The dualistic mind sees things as black and white, good or bad. I know I definitely struggle with this. I have always been the perfectionist type. The type that makes lists and plans and always aims to do my best in everything that I do. That is just how I am. So when I am not doing what I truly want to I feel like I am bad or set back in some way. My biggest fear would be to stop growing and changing and to no longer be able to see the beauty that is all around me. I am a deeply spiritual person and am always striving to be more or get somewhere in my spiritual development as well. I see everything I do as spiritual practice, so when I couldn’t walk yesterday I felt like I was being set back spiritually.
What I am learning is that everything is beautiful. Everything happens for a reason and nothing is essentially bad or wrong. All the good and bad times are necessary for our development.What I see as a set back, is not really a set back and that ultimately there is no way to mess up your life. Everything that happens is happening for a higher purpose that we often cannot and will maybe never even perceive. We are all on an upward journey to a higher consciousness and growing and learning each and everyday even if we don’t realize it.
I am also learning that I can’t rush the process. So many times people on a spiritual path think that they are helping themselves along or advancing themselves in some way by eating a certain way, meditating x number of hours, doing all different types of yoga or reading certain spiritual materials but the truth is that we cannot rush the process. We can’t make anything happen unless it is in its time. If we aren’t mindful, it can be so easy to fall into a trap wherein we have formed many attachments in our spiritual life and can cause great suffering for ourselves that way as well. It is a type of spiritual materialism.
I love what I read recently in Larry Rosenberg’s book on practicing being in the moment and watching our mind.”We tend to think of the present moment as a means to some end. If I just do this in moment A, I think I will be happy in moment B. But in this practice every moment is a means to an end. The point of moment A is just moment A. There is no moment B in which you will be more fulfilled than in moment A. Every moment is absolute truth.”
So this is what I want to practice, ridding myself of a dualistic attitude and creating less suffering for myself by not always allowing myself to be hit by that second arrow and getting caught up in delusional mind-states. I want to see the impermanence of everything, especially my life and the lives of those around me so that I can appreciate everything and everyone more fully. I want to wake up to each 24 hours and see them as a gift, here for me to choose how I want to live them. I want to love more and worry less and spend more time in the present moment and less time with my fears. I want to relax and surrender my control of how I think that things should be and instead allow them to be as they are. One moment at a time.