“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”
“I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion–and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.”
“The heart surrenders everything to the moment. The mind judges and holds back.”
~ All quotes by Ram Dass
What if right now, reading this, wherever you are, life is as good as it will ever be? And it is. That moment is already past and whatever level of satisfaction or discomfort was there is already flowing into the next moment and the next. We live in a culture devoted to half of life’s experiences and we strategize to keep our sadness and loneliness away with events and achievements. We design campaigns and create boundaries of responsibility so we will never know how it feels to be ashamed, afraid, or helpless. We make room in our hearts for what is welcome and flattering, while edging out the unwanted, believing if we just try a little harder, we can have this life a little sweeter, a little less stressful and lots easier. There was an advertising slogan a few years back that declared, “You can have it all.” The publicists were talking about light beer, but in life, we don’t want it all. We want only what we want.
Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, “This is it.” Life is not a dress rehearsal that we repeat until we get it just right; it’s happening now. And what if we are never kinder, wiser, healthier, smarter, or wealthier than we are in this moment? Are we enough as we are right now to make this moment count and meet it as we want to be? Can we stop trying to manipulate this moment and rest in our own capacity to meet the edges of what is unpleasant and unwanted? The more we can get comfortable with the range of our mind, the more we can make space to include everything and allow it to be.
This allowing can stop the push and pull of wanting the half of the whole and surprisingly lessen the power of the unwanted. When we don’t push back we can give the unwanted the freedom it needs to rise and fall without the struggle of dislike that makes it so painful. Another way to frame this is, “it’s ok to not be ok.” Pain is part of each life. Even at the best times, we may find a shading of sadness or fear. It’s ok to see the darkness or unwanted in ourselves and let it come and go without feeding it with opposition.
Including everything with the knowledge that our purpose is to meet ourselves where we stand just as we are is what I call the practice of non-abandoning, or inclusivity, leaving nothing out. When we set our intention to stay connected and present to all of our emotional life, we can meet each interaction with kindness and understanding. This week, you may like to try setting an intention of non-abandoning and put your acceptance of whatever is arising in you, as your first priority. This diligence to stand beside ourselves creates a framework of care for ourselves. When we can hold ourselves with this kind attention, we naturally bring our capacity for care to the world. When we stay present and do not abandon ourselves we can make this moment count. Developing the capacity to show up for ourselves means we don’t have to wait for a perfect future to be here now, fully present, engaged, and grounded in unshakeable love.
May we all trust our light,