Yesterday evening I was in a workshop, and my dear friend Luca guided us through a powerful practice. It was a simple recentering exercise in which he invites to expand all our senses, one by one, so we could notice more.
I was sitting at my desk, and the first sound I heard was the water flowing out from the well in the garden. Anchored on that sound, I gradually expanded my attention, and the world came alive: the birds singing, the TV in a near flat, a neighbour working in its garden, some dogs playing somewhere, the cars passing by in the distance.
The power of attention is just mindblowing.
This morning, with that rich experience still in my heart, I decided to move outside for my morning practices, near the well.
The familiar sound of the water spring welcoming me while I sat for my meditation practice.
But the experience hasn’t been what I expected. The sound of the water was so loud that it covered everything else. I couldn’t hear anything but the water flowing. I even struggled to listen to my own thoughts.
I realised that when we have something in our life so loud – such as a need, a pain, a thought, a desire or even love or joy – we can’t hear anything else. That single thing can fill up our senses and numb ourselves to everything else.
Next time I feel someone is not listening to me, I’ll ask if there is something in their life so loud that they can’t hear anything else.
Maybe I can help.
Here and now.
That’s everything I have.
Everyone says it. It’s written everywhere.
Here is the only place where I can do something.
Now is the only time I have to act.
It’s self-evident if I think about it.
Then, how comes that it is such a struggle to be really and fully present, here and now?
Why my mind keeps wandering in the past and the future? In places where, whatever may be happening, I have no control or influence right now?
No matter how hard I try, the present moment is still elusive.
Wait a minute.
“Stop trying to hit me and hit me!”
This is what Morpheus tells Neo during their first fight in the Matrix.
What if I’m trying too much?
Maybe I should just be, stop trying to be present in what I do, and just focus on what I do.
Because, in the end, no matter where my mind flies, I can only be and do here and now.
It’s not the practice; it’s the “I” within that practice that matters.
It’s a profound insight I received from a coach yesterday evening, during a webinar.
Do you ever get caught in the process, so focused on doing it right, that you forget to listen to yourself?
Because I love the practice, because I invested so much in creating the process, or because I fully trust the person who taught me the exercise. Whatever the reason, sometimes I am so focused on finding the right practice and executing it in the right way, that I forget what really matters.
As I wrote yesterday, I am the one who gives meaning to everything I do and experience. What’s the point in doing perfectly something meaningless?
The practices you do are essential, and you should choose them wisely. But the most important thing is to keep listening for yourself within whatever practice you do.
Does it make you grow? Does it help you achieve what you want or become who you want?
Does it make sense?
Right now, here.
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.”
These are the words with which psychologist Dan Gilbert closes his 7 minutes TED talk “The psychology of your future self“.
In his research, Gilbert asked people “how much your life has changed for them in the last ten years?” and then, to people ten years younger, “how much do you think your life will change in the next ten year?“
He discovered that people vastly underestimated how much change they would experience over the next ten years. He calls this the “end of history illusion”. The idea that we are where we need to be so there won’t be so many changes in the future.
Ten years ago, I would never expect to go through so many changes. Yet, here I am. And I honestly struggle to imagine how the next ten years can bring as much change in my life as the past ten.
But you know what?
I love surprises!
“The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”African proverb
I read this proverb a few days ago in a post about the riots in the States.
I thought it was a powerful perspective on what was happening. And it still is.
However, since the first moment I read those words, I felt there was something more in it, something speaking from and to a deeper place in me. I just couldn’t figure out what it was.
Until yesterday, when I stepped in the space created by my friend Vanessa and there it was.
If I replace the word “child” with “gift” or “need” and I recognise that I am the village, then it makes utter sense.
At least to me.
What are the gifts that I have and that I’m not embracing? What are the needs that I’m not paying attention to? What are the parts that the whole is ignoring?
It’s time to pay attention, to listen, to embrace.
Before the unheard parts burn down the whole.