Life Is Happening In Me
“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Earlier this year, I spent some time at an ashram in Rishikesh, India. A few people asked me why I was going to India and more specifically, what I was looking for. To be honest, at the time, I didn’t exactly know. What I did know was that I was drawn to go there since it is renowned for its spirituality and ancient yogic traditions. Have reflected a bit on my last year, I also knew that I wanted to become less judgmental and learn more about living life in a non-attached manner.
While at the ashram, and over the course of my trip, I learned more about meditation and how to do inner work.
One of the key things I learned was the concept that my mind and ego, are not my true self.
I found myself thinking about my time in India yesterday and reflecting on the key lesson I learned while on the trip. I am currently in Europe doing a workstay program at an eco-retreat centre.
So far, the owners of the workstay have been quite nice, and there has always been lots of work to do. The work involves anything and everything to do with building; shoveling, raking, moving objects, clearing, pouring, etc. Along with the other workstay volunteers, we cook our own meals, clean common areas, and enjoy our free time playing board games, reading, or frequenting the river nearby.
However, at times, like any new job or situation working with other people, there has been challenges. There is a language and cultural barrier, and things are different from the way I’m used to in Canada. The owners didn’t really give us a welcome orientation, don’t tell us when to start work or when to finish, don’t tell us when we have to cook and when they will cook, and often don’t speak to us in English when we eat meals together. It seems a bit disorganized, we are worked long hours, and the work is physically demanding, especially since it is outdoors and in the sun most of the day.
In response to these challenges, I have found my mind and ego rebelling against what I’m told to do, sometimes despising the people I’m working for, and conjuring up ways to criticize or complain because things aren’t the way I want them or the way I think they should be. I wonder why is it that when I am most out of our comfort zone, I try to find reasons to kick and scream to somehow find my way back to it?
As soon as my mind and ego starts on this train of thought, I stop, take in a few deep breaths, and come back to my intention.
The reason I’m doing this workstay is to practice mindfulness, flexibility, and totality.
1. Mindfulness helps me become aware of where my thoughts are taking me.
If the thoughts are relevant to the present moment, that is great. But too often, I find my thoughts are about something either in the past, future, or pertaining to something completely far and away from my present circumstance and surroundings. Mindfulness is a practice because it takes practice for me to keep coming back to the present moment to fully absorb and embrace it.
2. Flexibility helps me go with the flow, not tense up or get frustrated, and to accept and welcome change.
By practicing flexibility, I am able to see and respect other people’s ideas and ways of doing things, give them a meaningful chance, and be reminded that there are many paths to the same goal. Things always change, and practicing flexibility prevents me from getting too attached to a particular desired task or way of doing things, and thereby helps me continuously evolve.
3. Practicing totality allows me to stay fully in the moment and immersed into what I’m doing.
For instance, I spent almost an entire day earlier this week raking leaves and stones to clear a road. Taking what could be viewed as a relatively mundane task, I focused completely on it and thereby was able to experience it more fully. By being totally in the moment, I found myself grateful for having a tool such as a rake, for the beauty of my natural surroundings, and for the good friends I had found in my fellow workstay volunteers. Prior to practicing totality, I found that my mind would drift to other tasks or follow my thoughts out of the present moment, so it has been incredible to see the beauty I have been missing in each present moment when I am totally in it.
Reminding myself to be mindful, flexible and totally present in the moment have showed me how much of my perception, experience and enjoyment of life is within my control. By becoming aware of the thoughts that take me away from the present moment, and those that stem from the ego and mind, I feel more reconnected to my true self. I feel less attached to the negative thoughts and judgments that enter my mind, and like clouds in the sky, I simply watch them float by.
As I do this workstay, reconnecting with my breath helps me reconnect with the present moment. Having a daily morning meditation practice also helps to set my day well for me to remain mindful, flexible and totality immersed in each blissful moment.
I hope this very brief overview of these concepts and my experiences with them helps you in some way in your daily life, and I look forward to sharing and learning with you in their practice.
With deepest respect,