I live with a dog named Chulo. Chulo is a master because he is always, all-ways, present, and his presence draws me into that dimension, at least when I allow it to, which I am happy to say, is more and more often.
It changes me. One thing that I notice is that I want very simple things like clean sheets, the satisfying crunch of a well-stocked pepper mill. I’ve become chatty with neighbors. I want to read or just be at home with my family. I want quiet. Nothing tempts me from this. Adventure returns while fantasies dwindle, dissolve, like aged dandelions.
It is deeply physical, sensual. You literally fall into your body. The breath remembers pathways throughout the solar plexus down to the pubic bone. Eyes awaken, focus, scan the area. You take in sights, smells, sounds, like a dog, like a child. The wind stirs the air, bouncing, as though playfully, from pocket-to-pocket.
This is just my experience.
Being present is an act of faith. A teacher of mine, Ken Ludden, described faith as acting in a way that you know is right, in your heart, even though the outcome is uncertain. I like that description of faith. It places responsibility on oneself. It’s grown-up. It doesn’t deny the existence of God, whatever that Is, because placing something in God’s hands is something that you do.
Faith only truly expresses itself with action. So, we have to be willing to take a leap of faith into the present moment. It means we have to sacrifice the story in our head, which is something we control, because we have come to acknowledge the supreme importance of the present moment. It is nothing less than a form of worship. The only one that has ever made any sense to me.
Being present is the easiest thing in the world and the more I do it, fall, the easier life gets. And of course, we have to learn how to do it without the pills or the tool of an activity, such as rock climbing or dancing that forces you into the present. If you can do that regularly, congratulations. You have advanced to the next level. It will not win you fame, but the good news is, it won’t really matter.
Whatever the next level of consciousness is: salvation, samadhi, enlightenment, etc. don’t worry about what it’s called, or need it to be acknowledged by some guru or other. A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. A rose is a rose is a rose. In other words, don’t get caught up in the names. Besides, we have to at some point consider the validity of our own experience without comparison. It is, after all, all we have. Your happiness is your measure. That is not to say that other’s experiences shouldn’t inspire and guide us. Inspiration and guidance are needed and I think, sacred. Just don’t let other’s experiences and/or guidance trap you. Kill the Buddha, etc.
So don’t get caught up in names, or the experiences of others. Don’t get caught up in the trap of technique either. (And if you have, don’t worry. It’s just part of the process. Worry is another trap). Our culture is so obsessed with technique, but technique is just a story of the past that we’ve glamorized with memory. It implies the consistent recreation of an experience we enjoyed, but every experience, every pirouette and port de bras and tendu must be lived in the moment. Must be allowed to be mysterious. To grow and change. What exists is this moment, this step, this 40 year old arabesque. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy an inspired triple piroutte every now and then. Marianela Nunez, hello? Technique can be fun, and in her case, sublime. We just have to be careful and not give it more importance than it deserves.
There is no technique to be danced or lived. No golden key. No way, that once we’re on, leads us to eternal salvation. It is a myth. There ain’t no guarantees, sucka. Read the small-print.
No technique. Only practice.
Being present means letting go of expectation. Expectation is a burden that squashes life. Good luck with that one ;).
Being present is the art of life.
Being present is sexy.
Very very sexy, and who doesn’t want that?
And most of all, and I know it’s the thing I need to remember, Being Present plays.