Friday, November 1, 2013

Home in the Present

"Mindfulness helps you go home to the present.  And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes"  --Thich Nhat Hanh

As of this week I have lived in the Bay area for a full year.  And my singular takeaway?:  it's that mindfulness, and the art and practice of being present is all there is.   This move has allowed me to dig deeper into this practice than any other time in my life.

I've struggled wholeheartedly with space and place and how I move about in what I've lovingly referred to as "my year abroad."  I've also been afforded some of the most lovely connections with people who are dear to me in my life than I've had in a long long time.  

What I've learned has been the simplest, but most complex lesson I've ever internalized:  all of our years are years abroad in one way or another.  And to find "home" in our many years, in our many spaces and phases?  Is to find home in us; in the present.  I saw Thich Nhat Hanh speak last weekend, a pretty singular experience in itself, and in his simple reminder of "in breath, out breath," I smiled.  I thought:  Yes.  That pretty much sums it up.  

"There are so many conditions of happiness available in the here and now." --Thich Nhat Hanh

I sometimes chastise myself when I lose sight of the conditions of happiness around me, and I also know, without a doubt, that there is a deep connection between suffering and happiness.  And I love the idea that it is through this--this ability to suffer and to acknowledge suffering--that we can generate love and compassion, aka, happiness.  I am willing to accept that there are some people who are not able, for whatever reason, to cultivate their abilities to go home to themselves.  It can be darn scary to recognize pain and face it.  But to not be afraid to see and be seen?  To be present enough to actually be willing to be witness to my own pain and suffering and to those around me?  Well, I wouldn't trade that for anything.   

I have a vision of folding up my loneliness into tiny origami creations and sifting them through my fingers out the window of my living room and letting them drift down onto the street below.  Because these tiny creations would be honest, tangible representations, and, whether we admit it or not, are representative of a condition shared by any or all of us at any given moment.  And in that?  In that realization?  There is freedom, compassion, joy and tenderness.  And I think the world could use a little more of each of those things if we all want to serve each other well.  

[This sounds more preachy to me than I intended it to; I wrote it with an intent of celebration.  I hope it will be taken in that way.]

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