You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.
– Yogi Bhajan
I sat through an informative palliative course last week and learned that the most difficult challenge to a volunteer is learning how to be present, how to just be. To sit and be present with someone who is dying is a privilege and to sit in silence and allow a sacred space to unfold is a gift. But it is not an easy gift to give. Our first instinct is to fill the silence. Or, to become busy.
The instructor’s message was simple: Being; not doing.
Ah, the act of doing. Busy, busy, busy. As humans, just sitting still does not flow naturally. Since childhood we have been programmed to “do something.” Teachers chastise us when we stare into space. Our paychecks and annual reviews are contingent on our annual output. We are not paid to just be.
We are a competitive species.When someone achieves success in their workplace, or someone writes a beautifully-worded blog, or we see an exciting painting, or someone writes an evocative poem, we wish that we had written those words or painted that work of art. Suddenly our being is just not good enough. Everyone else is smarter, thinner, faster, and richer. And more creative.
We are a wanting species. What we have is never enough. Wanting means we work harder and longer. More importantly, wanting leaves us restless and unfulfilled.
Since I have retired and spent a number of years watching the decline of my parents due to a dementia-related disease, I have become fully aware of acceptance and love – of oneself. How ironic! I learned to accept their illness, to continue to love them – just as they are – and in the process, I learned to love and accept myself. (The theme of sharing our gifts is prevalent in all of my writing and it all started with learning to love and accept myself!) And while on this journey of caring for parents, I have found the secret to being content – to being, not doing – is…
Drum roll, please! Love yourself. That’s it. That’s the alchemy. Begin to love yourself just as you are. What follows is a miracle. You will begin to accept the moment – just as it is. You will be happy for other people’s success and rewards. You will not be competitive. There is no reason! You are happy that someone else has reached their goal.
When we love and accept ourselves, we come to the understanding that we are already enough! No longer do we have to strive to be better, bolder, or more beautiful. We are already enough. Right now. We don’t have to wait to be older or wiser. There is no prize at the end of the rainbow because the pot of gold is within us.
We no longer have to be busy doing. Just being is enough.
Now that does not mean the game is up. Nor does acceptance mean that we no longer have goals or want to improve ourselves, or that we no longer make plans for the future.
Here’s the funny thing that happens when we begin to accept and love ourselves: we become fully excited about being the best that we can be! And yes, that might mean I want to expand my mind, my creativity, and my strengths; and yes, that might open my awareness to my weaknesses and reveal some needed work on those, too. Growth is necessary! But I am okay with my weaknesses. I am okay with the need for growth.
And I no longer come from a wanting, competitive, doing state; instead, I flow from a state of acceptance, and from a state of love. That makes all the difference.
A peace and contentment (and joy) comes from that state…it leads to a deep knowledge that I am enough. I am enough.
Your success and happiness delights me. I am rooting for you. I want you to succeed. Your success does not scare me…I share in it.
When we share in others’ happiness and success, it fuels our own happiness and success.
To live in this state of awareness each day can only flow from loving ourselves – knowing that we are where we are supposed to be; knowing that we are who we are supposed to be; knowing that we are loved deeply (by our spirit within).
Every day I try to practice mindfulness in meditation (and in all my actions). Mindfulness leads to acceptance and love. Accept the moment we are in. This moment is all that we have. (Thank you, Thomas Merton.)
Mindfulness is the practice of sitting still, doing nothing! Paying attention to the breath. Noting the silence. Perhaps birdsong breaks the silence. Just take note. Perhaps a car horn interrupts the stillness. That noise, too, is part of the moment. Just be. Do nothing. Attempt to let your mind rest.
Mindfulness is called a practice because it takes time to practice the art of sitting still in silence. But the rewards lead you to acceptance: acceptance of the moment.
The next time I want to do something because I am restless, I will ask myself, “Why? Is this moment of just being, not enough?”
When I am aware that I am trying to escape from restlessness, I become fully conscious of the moment…and I remind myself that I am enough…even restless…I am enough. That calms my restless spirit. In other words, I am not trying to rid myself of my feelings, I am recognizing my feelings, and then accepting those feelings. I am enough…even when restless.
I begin to recognize that doing leads to: busyness, change, wanting and desire; being leads to: stillness, acceptance, love.
Being leads to ease; doing stems from un-ease. In doing, we try to avoid or distract from uneasiness.
The palliative course instructor reminded the volunteers that when someone is dying (or chronically ill, or suffering), that person might want to talk or share their emotions, our presence (just being there) allows the space for that to grow. I call that a sacred space.
A sacred space can lead to profound moments in a person’s dying, and can lead to a shared connection with another.
And the beautiful thing is that we do not have to do anything! Just be. That’s all that is required.