Mindfulness: Falling Into the Eternal Moment
The bad news is you are falling through the air; nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there is no ground.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
When we meditate, we only follow our breaths. We feel the air fill our lungs, center on our rising stomach and then experience the breath exhale, the emptying of our lungs. We have no other motive; we are not seeking Enlightenment. We just sit and breathe, mindfully.
As easy as this may sound, it actually takes much practice. Thoughts, plans, regrets cascade into our minds, sometimes drawing away our attention from our breath. This is not because we’re ‘doing it wrong’. We don’t judge ourselves; we acknowledge the thoughts and gently follow our next breaths.
Before long it becomes easier to catch our minds drifting. If we carry this mindfulness into our day, when we find our thoughts ‘racing’, we can use our breath ‘lifeboat’ to refocus. Three deep, mindful breaths; our ‘rescue inhalers’. But how do we continue to be present throughout our day; to live completely in the Moment?
We die to ourselves, moment by moment. We refuse to identify with our histories, our accumulated stories. We let each moment present itself anew. With no judgment based on our past stories and no projections of historical events into the future, we can fully embrace each moment ‘with fresh eyes’. One moment gives birth to the next, unclouded by ego. After all, ego is simply our interpretation of and identification with our stories.
Try it. See if it’s true. For a few moments, refuse to entertain any thought based on your history. Die to your past. Let your mind become blank. You’ll find each moment presenting itself anew, with unlimited possibilities. One eternal moment, giving birth to itself over and over again. How radical.
It can be intimidating. We lose a sense of who we think we are. We are not our stories, we are more than our plans. Our thoughts do not define us. Scary stuff, but ripe with potential. If we can give ourselves fully, unconditionally to the moment as it is, we experience an unparalleled present moment awareness.
One anonymous mystic Christian called this ‘The Cloud of Unknowing”. The apostle Paul described dying to himself daily. Jesus taught of taking no thought of the morrow, of being born anew, of becoming like children. Small children haven’t become identified with their histories. Fighting one minute, they play the next as if nothing happened.
Lao Tse Tung wrote about the deep, fathomless ‘Tao’. Without clinging to our expectations we sense the mystery. When viewed through preconceived notions, the wonder is lost and we see ‘things’. We’ve become anchored, even bound, in our own minds. Buddhists talk of the ‘void’; Hindus of the Brahman. Some modern theologians call it “The Ground of Our Being”.
Whatever it’s called, there is no sense of separate self when we give ourselves unconditionally to the Now. Without the anchor of our stories each moment is born anew. There are no limitations, no expectations. There is only This, to be experienced Now. We are indeed falling, nothing to hold onto, no parachute. But all we are falling into is another newborn Moment, the eternal beginning of the Now.
Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. And this is how we have to live.
May we have the courage to fall into Life fully moment by moment