There is a recurring theme in all the spiritual lessons I have read or heard about. That to reach enlightenment or heaven, we must fully be present. It seems most faiths have this common thread of belief that heaven is attained through presence.
Buddhism and enlightenment kinda go hand in had for me. It has so many beautiful things to offer, such as compassion and understanding that life is suffering (on first glance, it sounds grim but if you delve further you will see that acknowledgement of life’s ups and downs can release your suffering by ending grandiose and energy consuming actions to avoid pain). Up until recently, I thought that true enlightenment takes years, or many lifetimes (if you believe in reincarnation) and that you had to go and live on top of a mountain, meditate all day, let your hair get greasy and refrain from basic personal hygiene.
However, I have discovered that enlightenment can come through being totally and completely present in the moment. It is in this moment that time seems to be irrelevant and just for that tiny glimpse of a moment that you are present, all your perceived ‘problems’ disappear.
Take for example, the banal activity of drinking a cup of tea. Often times I am guilty of thinking, worrying, planning, yearning and doing anything else than actually enjoying the sensation of the warm liquid enter my mouth, pass down my esophageal tract and into my stomach. I have missed the moment of enjoyment of drinking the warm tea because I let my mind take charge and wander to the future where things have not yet happened, or go back to the past where things cannot be changed.
But when I am in the moment whilst doing something, like enjoying a piece of toast without thought, or playing with Amazing M, I feel so much at peace. There is this quiet joy and sense of belonging that I feel- different to intense jubilation, as we all know that these moments are transitory.
Oh, but to be present more often! Heck, even for one whole hour a day!
I think this is what caused a lot of my depression in the early months after having Amazing M. Yes, I could have done with more support, but that is an external condition that I couldn’t really control – I was far away from family, Mr B was often away for business, close friends were busy with their non-parenting lives etc. But what I could control were my thoughts. See, if you let them, your thoughts can ruin your day, week, month, year and whole life. I was trying so hard to run away from these thoughts and feelings, I felt like I was being sucked into a depressive quick sand. I was being strangled to mental death by my own unwillingness to acknowledge and accept these thoughts. This is where the book (recommended by a very clever friend) “Get out of your mind and into your life” saved me.
The book really put all the spiritual stuff I knew and lovingly read so many moons ago into a scientific context- neuropathology and all (you know I love my neuro stuff!) – that it just seems to click for me. I was rebooted spiritually and mentally back to normal life! Of course it took a while, but I really should have gone with the knowledge that life or the Universe was really on my side if I let myself go with it, not against it.
And once I began being more present and aware that my thoughts were just that- thoughts- and not actually who I was (the delicious mother that I am!), the depression started to ease.
The strange thing that followed on from my change in perception, attitude and thinking was that I actually got more support from the external world. Things started to change for the better.
And I understood to use my mind as a tool, not to be a tool to my mind. Sometimes when M wakes up for a feed and try to go back to sleep afterwards, I find myself getting into a state of worry (from over thinking). This is when I visualise putting my thoughts into a sack and chuck it into the Thames. Then I profusely and unabashedly repeat to myself how much I love me (no, seriously, I do say “I love you, I really, really love you!”) and the next thing you know I am deeply asleep.
(Self love is another post topic I will get to later!)
Well, the present moment consists of Amazing M getting up from her nap, so I’ll see you next time!