I have been traversing deeper into a great teaching lately which I’ll call: As Is. This teachings is about practicing to be with the moment just as it is. When we are able to do so we not only cultivate mindfulness in the process but what I am coming to learn is that we also save precious energy, create stamina and are better able to cope with stress . Not needing the present moment to be anything other than what it is, even if it’s not what we expected or wanted, is a profound practice and is even beneficial for our time usage, health and well being.
It is easy to understand that our physical bodies need rest to function properly. But it is perhaps not so easy to understand that the mind also needs rest to perform optimally. When I am constantly internally judging, blaming, worrying, stressing, regretting, complaining, and cursing at people, places, things and myself my mind is not at all restful. I see clearly that the root of all of these agitated mental states lies in wanting the moment to be other than what it is. To be with the moment just as it is means to lay down our worry and strife and if we are able to do that our situation changes right away. We can liken it to carrying a heavy stone. After carrying a large stone for some ways when we put it down our body is so grateful for the relief of weight and it is the same for our minds. Things like judgements, worry, stress, and negativity are heavy burdens to carry around. It is impossible for our minds to rest if we are continually bound up in these mental processes.
When I am able to meet the present moment on its own terms I am also practicing letting go, embracing impermanence, going with the flow and joy. And as I’m now finding out I am also practicing to alleviate stress and anxiety and conserve energy. An incredible amount of energy is expended when I am caught in wanting the present moment to be different. I am only just starting to really understand this and it is proving very refreshing and freeing!
The teaching of As Is applies to every aspect of our daily lives, not just the easy, comfortable, good stuff. This practice goes to the heart of everything that happens, has happened and will ever happen. We have a choice when it comes to how we engage with ourselves, our surroundings, and the events that unfold. It is easy oftentimes to think that life just happens to us and we bob around like a cork on the waves of the ocean unable to affect our situation. And while we don’t have much sway over what the turbulent tides may bring our way we do have a choice as to what vessel we weather the storm in.
The mind and body are connected. When we take good care of the mind we also take good care of the body and when we take good care for the body we also take good care of the mind. When I am caught in mental tension my body also becomes strained and tense, my breathing becomes shallow, and physical pains arise and heighten. When I am caught in turmoil it means that I am fighting against the flow of the moment. When I practice to embrace the present moment I practice to embrace life. The difference between embracing life and fighting against it is the difference between a life met with a scowl and one met with a smile.
I think that while the statement I’m about to say is generally understood on an intellectual level I don’t think we as a collective understand it on a heart level: Life consists of unpleasantness. Most of us would benefit from broadening our perspectives. It is easy to get caught in thinking that our troubles are unique and we have it worse than anyone – that our lives suck and what happens to us isn’t “supposed” to happen. The western mindset is very self-centered. Let us practice to get out of our own way and lay down our unskillful habitual tendencies to be a victim of what is in actuality the lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves. When unpleasant occurrences roll in with the tides of life the teaching of As Is shows us that we have a choice as to whether we get caught in the storm or dress for the weather.