Here I am. The bloom of the present moment.
I’ve just started reading a fantastic, potentially life-ameliorating book called ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The book is filled with beautiful thoughts and words, like ‘the bloom of the present moment’ ‘fog-dispelling clarity’, ‘stringing moments of awareness together’, dwell in stillness’, ‘shelter from the winds that agitate the mind,’ and from Thoreau’s Walden, ‘I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars’.
Wherever you are in life, that is where you are. Whatever you do, that is what you do. There is no past and there is no future; the present is all we have. If we learn to pause in the present moment, feel it, let it sink in and hold it in awareness, we accept the truth of this moment, learn from it and move on. The task of being mindful is a systematic cultivation of wakefulness. It is simple, but not easy.
In NLP teachings I learned about the filters we apply to reality. This book states that ideas and opinions that we normally harbour are silently colouring our lives without our full awareness. We fall into the trap of believing that our personal fictions are how things really are, that we know what is going on ‘out there’ and ‘in here’. Unless we can see that the dream-dictated reality is a mere fabrication of our minds, we cannot break out of ignorance. By seeing the outside world how it really is here and now, and appreciating the interconnectedness of all things, we wake up and take precautions against the pull of past and future, which are dreamworlds masquerading as reality.
When I think of some parts of my past, particularly living with depression, it does seem like a dream-dictated, fog-enshrouded blindness. This weekend I had a look through some of my old sketchbooks and diaries – always a bittersweet ordeal – and was amazed by how much negativity and lack of awareness in the outside world I possessed. Everything was ‘I can’t’, ‘I am not one of the lucky ones’, ‘It’s impossible to change’. One of my favourite little sayings that I would bandy about in artworks whenever I was feeling particularly sorry for myself was, ‘I regret the past, fear the future and cannot live in the present’. I actually thought that giving power and meaning to these thoughts was helping me somehow! I can see now that I was in a bad place, flirting with suicide, convinced that I was worth nothing, living only to create art. And I dread to recall what was going on in my life during the long expanses where there are no diary entries and sketchbook pages.
I was very inward-looking, and quick to be discouraged when looking outward didn’t give me the instant boost I craved. I was almost looking for a reason why I shouldn’t look to other people or external experiences for validation, so as a result, time after time they failed to provide me with any comfort. I was looking in the wrong place however. I didn’t start each day, or indeed live any moment, with a sense of gratitude and humility. I only felt happy when I was going to sleep or creating artworks about rather depressing feelings I remember the feeling of always wanting to be somewhere else, to be alone in the dark. I remember hardly being able to stand the journey from A to B, as I just wanted to get there, right away. I didn’t realise that the journey is actually all there is.
“It is possible through meditation to find shelter from much of the wind that agitates the mind. Over time, a good deal of the turbulence may die down from lack of continuous feeding. But ultimately the winds of life will blow, do what we may. Meditation is about knowing something about this and how to work with it.”