This moment. This very moment that our whole lives led up to. Oh my, such an amazing realization every single time! I’m writing this and you’re reading this in THIS moment.
I confess I notice a little self-consciousness that accompanies this desire to speak to the profound truth of presence. It’s the voice in my head that says, “Everybody knows that, Jesua. It’s the most basic teaching of all time. Why are you talking about that?” But I’ll tell you why: I’m continuously astounded by this exquisite revelation of presence. Aren’t you??
I mean truly—what a miracle… that this NOW, this holy instant, is all we get, forever. Isn’t it a breathtaking reality? So simple, so obvious, and yet forever bearing the possibility of an entirely fresh and deeper revealing.
It’s why Ram Das told us to “Be Here Now.” It’s why the celebratory call to presence is at the heart of every spiritual tradition. It’s why my teacher Gangaji asks us, “Where is your attention in this moment?” It’s why my dear shamanic elder Tom Pinkson invites us to “Live Love Now.”
Inherent in presence is an intimacy with death, with the precariousness of our aliveness, the precious fleetingness of life. To be fully present in life is to be fully present to the undeniable truth of death. Maybe that’s why so many people do everything possible to avoid being present?
Inherent in presence is our willingness to BE with whatever is present… even if that is extreme discomfort, or fear, or confusion, or grief, or fury, or shame.
If we put down all our distractions, all our scrolling, our shopping, our striving, our avoiding, our processing, our relating, our fantasizing, our scheming, our gossiping, our wishing, our hating, our whining, even our intending, and just be here with ourselves in this moment, there’s a chance for a fresh start.
A fresh beginning of life again. A fresh moment, this moment: our only moment of life, to live.
This is the only moment we ever get—to be vigilant; to be kind; to feel what’s arising; to respond with patience; to tell the truth; to say I’m sorry; to love ourselves.
Our presence is one and the same with our open, holy heart. It’s a chance for our hearts to meet the world, just as it is.
To meet LIFE just as it is, and our own selves just as we are, for the first time, for the only time.
As we attend continuously to presence, then we get to live in a world that is present to itself, open to itself, awake to itself, alive as love in itself.
And this, it seems to me, is the most potent medicine we could ever ask for.
I love you. xo
What if every single time we are triggered, and every mistake we make is an invitation for self-compassion; an invitation to be merciful with ourselves?
What if the very presence of reactivity—either inside of us, or coming at us—can be a dharma bell for self-compassion?
I made a few mistakes in the last week; moments when I failed to be true. There was that moment when I side-stepped my own integrity and colluded with another’s drama. There were moments when I raised my voice in frustration. There was that moment I consciously indulged a perspective of fault and blame. There was that moment when I allowed words unlike love to move out of my mouth and into the ears around me.
It’s amazing how the deepest teachings of integrity and kindness come from the very moments when we fail to embody integrity and kindness.
What else could better reveal to us the consequences of our forgetting?
If we can take those teachings in, and truly allow them to penetrate our hearts, honing our living intention to be truer and be kinder, and if we can then use the pain of our mistake to inspire acknowledgment, apology, and self-forgiveness…
Then even our painful mistakes and failures can only serve our truer living of love.
Happy New Year, new decade, new holy moment from our little family to all of you…
I feel a simple prayer for us all. A prayer for ever-deepening presence in our living and our loving. A prayer for intimacy with the gift of this moment and what it means to keep our gratitude closer than close.
A prayer that we find increasing gentleness and kindness with ourselves and one another.
A prayer for courage; that we might continually take a stand for truth and love and self-love in the moments that are most difficult for us to.
I pray that as individuals and as a collective we might rapidly wisen and evolve. We might more easily make the connection between action and consequence. We might more quickly catch ourselves in the act of untruth and make a better choice.
Personally, I pray to get quicker at stopping myself in moments of forgetting. Quicker to rise to a truer action or speaking. Quicker to listen openly. Quicker to self-responsibility and apology. Quicker to forgiveness and compassion. Quicker to humility. Quicker to laughing at myself. Quicker to kindness please. Quicker to trust. Quicker to resting once again into what’s holding it all.
In this moment and every moment my prayer is to get out of the way of Grace, and to somehow do right by all I’ve been entrusted with. Especially this golden torch of truth.
To discard any habituated allegiance to self-doubt or self-denial or self-questioning.
Happy ever-new Moment dear ones! Happiest New Year blessings, New Decade blessings!
In this newest Now, I love you so! xo J
Several years ago, during this very same season of giving thanks, I went through a very difficult passage.
It was not long after my daughter Arayla (nine years old at the time), had endured a vicious health ordeal that landed her in the pediatric I.C.U. for one long, terrifying week.
There’s pretty much nothing like watching your child fight for their life.
Since her powerful recovery I had been troubled to notice that I was feeling more distraught—in fear, anger, and heartache—than purely relieved and grateful.
Here she was, miraculously improving before my very eyes, skipping vibrantly through the house, scattering her bright-eyed laughter, her clever bossiness, her gracious old-soul wisdom and elegance. Here she was, ALIVE. And so why was my heart feeling so broken?
I knew I had so very much to be grateful for. But in reality I was feeling perpetually triggered and defensive and guarded against life.
Life has shown me again and again that gratitude is one of the most powerful tools we have; a major key to freedom. If only I can connect with sincere gratitude for what’s here, for all the many ways I am blessed, for this simple honor of aliveness, then I can find peace.
Yet in this case my gratitude had become eclipsed by fear. For the life of me, I couldn’t shake the dark weight and depression her illness had inspired. In private corners of my day I would resort to self-scolding: She lived! She’s here! You got to KEEP her! What are you so sad about?
It became obvious to me that at some core level I was deeply angry with God. The trauma of my daughter’s illness had left me feeling disheartened and disillusioned about the unpredictable nature of life and love.
I found myself wrestling with the suffering that accompanies our vulnerable attachment to others.
How were we supposed to even enjoy love inside a field of imminent, uncontrollable loss? How were we supposed to feel even remotely safe in this equation? Were we supposed to just live with the fact that it is all hopelessly beyond our control?
Finally it became clear that I had a substantial bone to pick with God. It began with my hurting mama heart, and this immense vulnerability of attachment. But as I inquired deeper, I recognized that this bone I needed to pick with God was much bigger than my own little life.
It was about the greater suffering on the planet; the distressing darkness of the masses.
It was about the blind fear and short-sighted greed of corporate madness.
It was about the insanity that leads to children shooting other children.
It was about the countless, devastating effects of global warming—distressing our oceans, our forests, our communities; eliminating countless species, including possibly our own.
It was about the soil and the seeds and the bees.
It was about the entirely unnecessary prevalence of poverty.
It was about the tragedy of our collective misperception of separation—from the Great Mystery and from each other—fueling addiction, war and dis-ease across the globe.
I found myself feeling angry, really furious with God about all of this.
As I fumed in rage and grief, I recognized that I felt sincerely challenged to love a God, a Life, a Mystery that could be this horrifically messy—including so much disaster and misery for so many.
With this recognition I could feel myself touching into the deepest source of my angst; my most turbulent inner conundrum: How to love this life with all it includes? How to be sincerely grateful for life as it is?
I found myself courageously praying towards real resolution: how to discover authentic peace? How to stop the fight against God? How to just love life anyway—to somehow find true gratitude for this life in its ruthless inclusion of continuous loss, constant uncertainty, and zero control?
I sat at my altar and wept and burned in the fire of no control. I knew I had to find a way to open my heart to life on life’s terms. I knew my freedom and joy and the health of my relationships depended on it.
And so I burned and burned, and wept, and allowed all my grievances against life to be felt and named and known. I allowed my broken heart to simply be included in my love.
And in my willingness to open wider to everything that appeared to be in the way of true gratitude, I found my way humbly home to my own broken-open heart of authentic thanks and forgiveness.
I recognized that if our love for life remains conditional, based upon us getting our own way or life looking the way we want it to, we remain defended against the slap of life’s ruthless uncertainty. We remain fearful of life’s radical inclusivity.
The degree to which our hearts are guarded and armored against life’s horrors is the exact degree to which we are also closed to its brilliant love, beauty, and joy. There’s just no escaping that truth!
Today, if I were to name a spiritual practice, it is only found in this ongoing, moment-by-moment practice of opening wider to all this life includes.
It is the inherent way this silences my mind and liberates my heart. It is the simple way this grounds me in the precious truth of presence. It is the profound way my willingness to be with what is inspires my reverence for life itself.
In this present season of Giving Thanks, so many of us really do have so much to be grateful for.
This sacred breath, this moment of heart, these dear ones we adore, these birds outside in the trees, this precious water pouring from the skies, this food on our plates, this warmth in our home, this blessed chance to say thank you, once again.
But perhaps for some of us, in order to discover a deeper sincerity of thanks, we must first tell the truth about what’s in the way of that. About what’s burning raw in our hearts; what’s angry or disheartened; what’s aching within us, for good reason.
Perhaps you have your own bone to pick with God? Perhaps it’s time to tend the altar of your own trampled heart and broken faith. To clear the air of every grievance.
Maybe this is the moment to find your way home, my friend—once again—to a deeper honesty; and then to forgiveness; to loving life on life’s terms; to gratitude for it all just as it is.