Have you ever been shocked into silence in a single instance by someone’s offhand comment that completely changed your life?
This happened to me a few days ago when I was snapped into such mindfulness that I still haven’t left. Here’s what happened; maybe the same will happen for you.
I was speaking with a new friend who had a long history of spiritual practice and meditation. Although a Westerner, he had been exposed to Eastern—in particular Indian—meditation for decades since the 1970’s. I had met him in a social situation, and just happened to ask him about his interests. As he dove into his nearly 40 years of different practices, my mind started to wander a bit. Honestly, I was already familiar with much of what he was saying but I could tell he was excited that I had asked and was interested. So I continued to listen out of courtesy.
To illustrate a point, he went into a story about a monk who loved his modest life of servitude. Washing dishes, cleaning for others and generally living a life of service defined his existence. When my friend got to the part where he explained why the monk loved his life, my ears perked up.
What he said was this: while engaged in whatever he had to do, the monk repeated this thought to himself quietly. I am doing this in the presence of God.
Whoa. How much of my life have I spent going through the motions, complaining under my breath about my circumstances and just generally hating what I’m doing? If I’d just remembered that what I was doing was in the presence of “God”—or Source, Great Spirit, the Universe, the One, whatever you call it—I would have done it with reverence and known it was important on some level. In short, I would have been present, mindful, in the Now.
After that experience which was over a week ago, the feeling hasn’t lessened. Quite the contrary. As I go through my day, the same thought the monk kept in mind is also in my mind: I am doing this in the presence of the Universe, of God. Just a day or so ago something else happened which punctuated the sea-change in my awareness. I felt incredible sadness at all the lost moments, the time wasted in meaningless mind chatter, the casual nature with which I have lived most of my life. When all along I was in the presence of the central and most important force in my life: that which I think of as God. I spent some time with that feeling, really leaning into it so that when I was done with that good cry, I could move on with my life.
If this resonates with you try this simple exercise. Stop what you are doing and reflect that wherever you are, you are not alone. A quiet force whatever you call it is also there, and whatever you are doing is in its presence. And that reflection makes you present for everything you are doing. Welcome to the Now.