I travel often and take others on spiritual journeys. Every tour is rejuvenating. Every experience provides growth. Every one helps me to feel both more grounded and connected with everything else. There is always a theme. Usually, I decide ahead of time and set that intention.
With this last trip I didn’t do that, and I didn’t realize what the last trip was about until a client said to me, “I wish I had spent my childhood learning how to be.” That’s exactly what we did–we experienced what it was like to be.
Everyone has a choice about whether they are going to be or not to be. I don’t mean in the Hamlet sense. I am not talking about contemplating suicide. I am talking about whether you decide to live here now. If you plan to actually live your life, you start by being conscious. It’s not easy.
We teach children to focus and spend time on so many things that don’t matter. We spend our childhood getting ready for something that is always in front of us. We go to school to learn so that we can either get into a better school or get a good job. Then we work hard so that we can get a better position. We save money so that we can get a car, house, or vacation. And then we work to get a better car, house, or vacation. We’re always getting ready. We’re always reaching for something ahead of us. We’re never here now. We put off that moment when we will relax, be, and enjoy life until X happens.
So let me tell you what it was like to just be. We got up with the sun. We went to bed when it was dark. We ate when we were hungry. We laughed when something was funny. We lingered over our meals and delighted in the company. We watched the sunrise, the clouds move by, and the moonrise.
We listened to the crickets. We felt the sun on our skin. We walked barefooted in the grass. We savored the sweetness. We listened to the wind. We felt sadness and horror. We allowed our hearts to be moved. We danced. We allowed ourselves to be human beings instead of human doings.
What we didn’t do was live by a clock, rush to meet a deadline, or think about next week, next month, or next year. We didn’t withhold our joy, fear, or sadness from ourselves or each other. We didn’t grasp for knowledge that we might never really need. We didn’t give in to fear of judgment of not being good enough, coordinated enough, or smart enough. Despite being surrounded by utter poverty, we didn’t talk about the comfort, clothes, or status symbols we left back home. It wasn’t important.
When you get to the last day of your life, it won’t be important then either. This moment is what is important. Right here. If you squander it with worry, thinking about your limitations, or by scrambling to get more, you essentially trade it away. Don’t. It’s too precious a gift.
When you are still enough to feel all the things we felt, you find that there is a LOT more to it than just that. Things that don’t have words to describe them. You can feel so much more alive when you have that than all the bling, pretty women, or titles will ever give you.
Once you have it, you will yearn for it. You won’t be able to live without it. All the things you thought were important will fade in significance. And you will find that happiness is so much easier to attain than you ever believed possible.
You probably had glimpses of this as a child. Remember when you just did something for pure pleasure? Remember giving it your whole attention? You didn’t judge it. You just did it with all your heart. Maybe you played with Legos, read books, climbed trees, or went fishing with your dad. There was no purpose to it other than just to experience what you were experiencing. That’s how you do it. That’s what it is like to be.
If you are feeling angry, be angry. If you are feeling confused, be confused. If you are having coffee with a friend, be there. Don’t let your mind wander to the laundry pile you left behind or the yoga class that is coming up next. Be here. If you are working, work. Enjoy the moment–for whatever it is. It’s only here once.
The lovely thing is, you don’t have to go anywhere to be. You can do it at work. You can do it on the way to work. You can do it in the shower. You just have to center your mind. So, you can do this all day or for snippets throughout the day. The more conscious moments you have, the more meaningful your life will become because it makes you more aware of when you are acting in alignment with yourself.
So you choose to be more authentic because feeling inauthentic hurts. Being helps to get you out of ineffective habits because it creates a natural feedback loop. If you don’t like how something feels, and you take the time to feel it, it encourages you to make changes. When it’s time to shift, you create a life of growth. Your life looks more like a reflection of your true self.
So to be or not to be. That is the question. How will you answer?