How to Be Present to Life’s Presents
As far back as I can remember, my childhood life was about staying sane in an insane environment. Decisions on how I was to live my life, was constantly made over my head by an unstable and emotionally disconnected father, with no regards to my desires and dreams. And yet, I am grateful for the loneliness and I even appreciate the alienation I felt as a child, because it focused my awareness inwards and gave me opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had to really explore the inner silence where my true self resides.
This inner exploration revealed to me, and it is so easy to forget this especially in times of crisis and upheaval, that there is so much more to reality and life than just survival. We are not here to struggle our way through existence and then, when the time comes, simply lie down and die. To me, even at an early age, life seemed to be about exploring new things and about enjoying the pure fact of being alive – no matter how hard life sometimes presented itself to be.
Being fully present in the now moment by breathing in and out felt like much more than just breathing to survive. Observing a butterfly dance through the air or enjoying the rain on my face was enough of an experience to justify the reason for my existence; actually, the reason for all of existence.
Most of us are so preoccupied with the constant chatter created in our minds by fear–keeping us in habitual ‘survival mode’–that we fail to be present and see the magic and beauty in the most ordinary and simple things as a butterfly or a raindrop.
Paradoxically, in order to silence the noise in our heads, we tend to search for more information from outside–scrolling our phones, checking the news–as if acquiring it will miraculously ease our restless minds and give us time, somewhere in the future, to enjoy the inner peace we so ache for now.
What seems to elude us is that, in order to reach our goal of calmness and happiness somewhere in the future, we must stop chasing information outside of ourselves and start embracing what we already know from within, now. The way I see it, by interacting mindfully and consciously with our reality and by being fully present we create time and space for inner wisdom to reveal itself. This doesn’t have to be complicated or take much time. I know because I used to practice this often as a child. I would simply stop whatever I was doing for a second, close my eyes, quieten down and say: I’m okay now. Everything is fine.
As a matter of fact, let’s do a grownup version of this together right now.
Put your hand on your heart,
take a deep breath in…and…out
and say after me:
I cherish this moment for all that it is.
I trust the future and everything it brings.
There is a good reason for everything.
Some years ago, I saw an interesting documentary about the pyramids in Egypt called “The Pyramid Code,” directed by Carmen Boulter PhD. One of the people being interviewed was an elderly man called Abd’el Hakim Awyan. The always smiling Hakim could best be described as a ‘walking library,’ with a mind filled with long-forgotten ancient memories and knowledge of sacred universal truths and principles. The interesting thing about Hakim was not only that he was a very knowledgeable man, but he also defined himself as a container of that valuable information.
He called himself a wisdom keeper. His total awareness of the inner riches he had gathered during his life, and his definition of himself as a guardian of this treasure, resonated perfectly with me. Listening to him, I realized that in a sense, we are all wisdom keepers–storing the accumulated knowledge of our lives, regardless of how old we are, in our minds and hearts. All we have to do is start connecting to that knowledge by being fully present and embracing the wisdom we have within.
This essay was featured in the May 31st edition of The Sunday Paper. The Sunday Paper inspires hearts and minds to rise above the noise. To get The Sunday Paper delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.