Just Keep the Gift Moving

I find lately, more and more in my own life that doing this throughout the day really helps me see that all these moments of attention help me feel the net of life all around me. I feel more connected. Happier. Better able to deal with whatever comes along. And I think it’s making me feel less afraid and more generous, more able to love, more able to put down the mask of self protection that I’ve been hauling around.

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Mindfulness fundamentally is about being. About how we are in the right here and now. Seeing what’s true for us in the moment. Allowing it to be as it is. Investigating gently. Maybe we might mentally ask ourselves, so what’s up? There’s a recognition that whatever it is, it doesn’t define us and it ain’t permanent. So if the moment feels unpleasant, it can be sort of reassuring to know that this will change. If it feels pleasant, it can help us feel grateful for a little slice of loveliness. Neutral stuff, doesn’t even cause a blip. 

The little plant doesn't complain about where it grows. It just does the best it can where it lands. It grows naturally into what it will be. (Photo Hillary Johnson 2014)
The little plant doesn’t complain about where it grows. It just does the best it can where it lands. It grows naturally into what it will be.
(Photo Hillary Johnson 2014)

All we have to do is pause and breathe. 

This breath, then the next one. Take three in a row now. Let them be slow and deliberate. Feel the stretch of the muscles and tendons as the lungs expand. Then feel them relax as you exhale.

Better?

I find lately, more and more in my own life that doing this throughout the day really helps me see that all these moments of attention help me feel the net of life all around me. I feel more connected. Happier. Better able to deal with whatever comes along. And I think it’s making me feel less afraid and more generous, more able to love, more able to put down the mask of self protection that I’ve been hauling around.

brene               AMANDAPALMER

I’ve been reading pretty much everything Brené Brown has ever written and Amanda Palmer’s, The Art of Asking. Yesterday, suddenly it hit me. Hard. I used to know, used to feel, that what Brené Brown and Amanda have been saying was true for me too. But it’s been squished out of me and over time, I’ve forgotten what asking, what vulnerability feel like. How to do that, be that way. Boldly open. Trusting life. As I’ve been reading her book, I’ve been remembering all the times where I asked and got exactly what I wanted at the time. I remember now that feeling of wanting to connect connect connect with people, the share an experience, to trust love to win in the end. And holy shit, am I ever feeling done with feeling fearful. I mean, right?

What a time, energy, creativity suck it is. And the thing is, that some of what squished all that trust out of me were well-intentioned prods by my parents. They were just trying to protect me. And I get that. Totally get that. But…

As a step-parent I get that it’s never very clear, or as least not often very clear regarding that class of things I call Things Best Said Under Extremely Difficult Conditions and when you see your kid suffering or doing something that makes you want to run in and scoop them up like when they were very tiny and shout, No! That’s crazy and dangerous or you’ll get hurt. Or something like that. But, maybe all we do is create fear and instal the same layers of not always helpful self protection and lack of trust and vulnerability that makes life so freaking wonderful and scary but totally awesome. (And just for the record, I’m not suggesting that we all just throw caution to the wind or anything crazy. I’m just recognizing that even sometimes good intentions can cause results we don’t expect. All the more reason to be mindful and then of course, let go of any expectations in terms of results.)

When we let go of expectations, then we’re really open to be delightfully surprised.

Leaping with joy

For a while, after I really started practicing meditation and studying and trying to bring mindfulness into all the corners of my life, I went through a hard, hard phase. It felt like in order to “do this right” (don’t even get me started! Oh God, so much judgement in that phrase!) I had to step away from all kinds of things which make life fun. But holy cow, being mindful doesn’t mean that at all. We can have fun and cool new sneakers for spring. We can be in love. We can have great sex. All kinds of things.

The trouble comes when we do any of these things on auto-pilot, in which case we’re not really enjoying them anyway. Or when we take refuge in them, thinking that all that impermanent, external stuff is gong to make us really happy. It won’t.

The trick it to live fully I think. Embracing the whole “catastrophe” we can directly experience the truth. We’re all in this together.

Life IS movement.

The only rule is to keep the gift moving. Share the love however we can.

Small things matter. It all matters. A smile can change someone’s day. Just because we can’t see it the ripple effect, we know it is endless. We are infinite.

Love to you all, fellow travelers.

Let’s keep the gift moving together. And, as always, let me know what you think. What’s feeling true for you? What are your struggles. How to make it through. We can help catch each other through talking and seeing and holding the space.

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Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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