The Sweet Softness of Now
I don't know about you, but life is busy. It can be hard and uncomfortable. I spent most of today figuring out how to feed myself on more than protein balls from my favorite local meal club while also trying to soak in information for an important quiz tomorrow. I'm not sure either thing I attempted really worked. (Those are by no means the hardest of things, but they're what's happening now.) I thought a lot about my week and how full it was with work and school, letting myself feel a little overwhelmed at it all.
So tonight, I find myself dreaming of this picture: my favorite river, one of my favorite spots in the whole world. That sounds nice, right? I have great memories of floating down the river in kayaks with my family and friends a couple of months ago. We had a wonderful moonlight paddle one evening, which is the same night as this photo.
All of that is great. But it takes away something.
See, I love that river. I love my people. I love the time I get to spend away from my textbooks and my jobs... But that river is not what's happening right now. What's now is this blog. Maybe in a few minutes, now will be more notes and textbooks and study. Now doesn't have to be any harder than it is floating down that river, we just have to cultivate the space that the river opens in us: the soft and sweet now.
Huh? Didn't I just say life is busy and hard?
I did. It's even harder when I don't stay living in the now and from that internal soft spot. I picture that place right in the middle of my chest. It's like a little window in my sternum where I peek inside and there's a cool breeze and the river and so many calm breaths. Remembering that place helps me to remember the softness that can be here now. Every moment can be something. Maybe the moment you're in doesn't feel all that great. Tomorrow, I'm sure I will feel stress going into my quiz and just my school day in general, but that internal equanimity is still there. I just have to remember to be soft, to allow the now to be it's dear self, whatever it is at the time.
In an effort to cultivate this equanimous center, as I like to call it, we just have to practice. Every moment is a possibility for practice, so take a moment now. Look out a window or up at the sky and take a deep breath. Just a smooth inhale, then a slow exhale. Feel your feet where they are. Feel your body, held in space. Take another breath. Close your eyes. Picture this place inside of you like a mirror that reflects a favorite spot to reconnect. Is it a beach? A forest? A river? Maybe it's not a place you know personally, but one that just seems so lovely that you're sure it must exist. Stay in this spot for a minute and notice your breath again, slow and peaceful. Open your eyes and experience your present moment.
The feeling you may get from this experience is one that I try to live from in as many moments as I can. I don't mean that you are paying attention to that lovely river over what's happening in the now. What I mean is the same care that you took to imagine that space is the same care that you can take to experience each moment of the day. This care is what brings us to that soft, sweet feeling of being in the now. It might not always feel that way and that's okay. Just being open to what's happening, to meet it from softness, is a great victory indeed.