The Practice of Being Present
There are so many good self-help books, inspirational books, words of wisdom. Books that cause you to question things, including yourself. Books that help you to see things differently, or to connect with knowledge you already possessed. Books that inspire you to grow and evolve beyond your current patterns, identity and limitations. A frequent message in these books is something along the lines of, "You are your thoughts; your thoughts are not you." In other words, what we think becomes our reality, but it is not our true nature.
But wise, inspirational statements and thoughts such as this are not always easy to translate into practice, into an actual change of patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour. Many people have the experience of reading inspirational books and trying to translate those inspirational thoughts into daily life. As they continue to experience challenges, even hardship, they try reminding themselves "You are not your thoughts" or, "You create your own reality." Many times, though, people find themselves unable to change or alter their experience despite working very hard at making these kinds of affirmations. They can end up simply feeling frustrated, or even having a sense of failure, at being unable to translate such inspirational and wise advice and thoughts into their lives.
When I started reading the books of Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and such people back in the 1980s, their words immediately and profoundly resonated with, and awakened, a deep sense of knowing. Knowing that these portrayals of my true, inner self were correct. Knowing that what I was being told about my innate potential was correct. Knowing that true and profound change from within was possible.
It activated a new reference point for me of how to think of myself, what to work on, and the directions to move in. At the same time, the contrast between that and my daily experience of myself and of my life, sometimes made it seem like an ideal that was out of reach. My day-to-day inability to be that person, to tap into that potential, to know myself in that way, was frustrating.
Therefore, my focus became on how to translate those ideals, those goals, into day-to-day practices that would make a difference. How to actually walk that walk, one step at a time, and make it part of my experience of reality, however imperfectly.
First of all, I had to let go of the ideal, while holding onto it. You probably think that sounds like a contradiction; what can I possibly mean by this? It means that I had to let go of thinking that somehow I should be able to tap into my true, authentic nature (my essence, which transcends this body in this life) and to just be that person. At the same time, I needed to remain connected to the belief that the potential to be that person was always present and that this may yet be possible.
Instead of striving for the ideal, to be my authentic self, I turned my attention to trying to eliminate the obstacles and obstructions I found within me to being that person. Little by little, step-by-step, I worked on changing patterns of thinking, changing patterns of behaviour and of feeling, healing unresolved traumas or losses, that had resulted in the fears, the beliefs and the "hardwiring" that interfered with my ability to be my true, authentic Self.
I will always believe in the possibility, the potential, for experiences of instantaneous healing and "quantum shifts." I never rule that out. But I don't live in the fantasy that that's how it should happen, or that it will happen. What I have learned to do is take full ownership of my experience, and the realization that I really do create my own reality moment by moment. But where I go with that is not to try to think my way into a different reality, to create castles in the sky based on how I wish things were. What I do with that is moment by moment, to take ownership of the reality I am creating through my thoughts, my feelings and my actions and to do what I can to change that reality.
One of my most important realizations, was that as important as the mind is, if all this stays in the mind, then that's where it stops. You don't alter your lived experience of living in a physical world, in a human body, in relationship with other people, by living in your mind or thinking your way into a new reality. You change it by being in your body, and by dealing with what happens in your body.
Another realization was that clearing the obstacles to being my real, authentic Self, meant clearing the space in my body occupied by old feelings and patterns, so that my authentic Self could inhabit this body. All the ways that I hold fear, that prevents me from being mySelf, are translated into held tension and stuck energy in my body that inhibits me from inhabiting that body fully. All the negative beliefs I might hold about myself, the world and other people, all the limiting thoughts and beliefs, result in stuck energy, or blocked energy flow in my body.
Therefore, the process in which I had to engage is one of clearing these things, changing these patterns as they are experienced in the body and the mind, so that I could consciously inhabit my body with my full consciousness. And this is essentially what I mean by the phrase "Conscious Embodiment," that I coined for this project, this goal, this process – and this blog. Consciously inhabiting my body with my full consciousness. That is the only way I know to be my true, authentic Self in this world. This world is essentially – in its essence – nonmaterial and formed by Consciousness and energy, but it is in fact – in day-to-day experience – a physical world. The purpose, the goal, the project, is not to try to escape that physical dimension, it is to embrace it and inhabit it with full consciousness.