Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Are We There Yet?

There is a cartoon that Jack Kornfield once shared during a retreat of an Arab family riding on camels through the desert. The father, on the lead camel, is turning back impatiently to the second camel, which is carrying his wife and two small children. "Stop asking me if we're almost there!" the father is saying. "We're nomads for crying out loud!"

In many ways, we all live a nomadic existence. We live inside these portable life-support units that we call "bodies," and we carry them (or they carry us) wherever we go. Wherever the body goes is "here," so to ask "are we there yet?" is a bit absurd. We're never there, we are only here.

When we want to arrive in the present moment and really be here, all we have to do is turn toward the senses of the body. This will automatically bring us into contact with the here and now. The breath is an excellent object of attention, because the breath is part of the body and therefore is always a present moment experience.

Take time every day to arrive where you are in the body. Whenever you are experiencing distressing experiences, turn toward the body and really know what it is doing, no matter how unpleasant it may be. The natural tendency will be to try to get away from the unpleasant, just as we might want to cling to the pleasant. Rather than doing either, try just "being with" the experience as it is, acknowledging its presence, and allowing it to be there. Often times, just by paying attention in this way to our experience, the situation changes without our having to do anything, as we come into a new relationship with what is.


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