I have been designing the 12 month course that will start in January through my new school, The Wabi Sabi School of Mindfulness. The doors will open and information and registration will begin January 1, 2014. It is very exciting, but I am staying very present with the work at hand now. I am reveling in the joy of laying out the plans for the year ahead, and after a very long meditation time quietly opened my notebook and without stopping wrote the topic/titles for each month of this year long journey toward peace, happiness, and wholeness. I realized that what I am doing, right now, in this moment, is what I will be teaching about more deeply in Month 9 ~ Dreaming Your Way Into The Future In This Moment… It is what perplexes people most, I think, about the practice of mindfulness, “How do I plan for the future if I’m just supposed to “BE HERE NOW?” as Ram Dass famously put it in the 70’s.
I’ll use the example that I spoke about above. The school that I am opening doesn’t just have a year long program to be designed but ramifications into the future. There is a lot of work to be done. How does planning for the future jive with mindfulness? Well, while preparing to open the school I certainly have to plan the future work that has to be done, programs and materials that must be created, but the point is not to get lost or overwhelmed about those future plans. It gets laid out, it gets broken down into workable parts toward the achievement of the goals, and then I stay present in this moment doing each piece of work that needs to be done, right now. Each piece will, in it’s turn, arise in the next moment that I am stepping into when it is time for me to work on it. And so on it goes. We plan for the future but live in the now.
In yesterday’s post I spoke about gardening and this is a perfect example of what I will be teaching in this module, and an overall theme for the approach of the whole year’s work. Mindfulness is just like gardening. As a gardener I must plan ahead. I think about what I want to plant, I order the seeds, and finally I plant them, but I don’t spend months worrying about it. With a garden there is always work to do, and after I post the order for the new seeds I go out into the garden to see what needs to be done today. There are cycles and seasons in the garden, and a continual round of planting, weeding, watering, feeding, and so on but the only way to get the work done, the only way to grow a successful garden, is by doing the day’s tasks as they arrive. A garden is a living, growing thing and like us everyday brings new challenges and surprises. One day, one moment, one challenge at a time.
Think of it this way, dream big dreams, shoot for the stars, but from a grounded place of staying in this moment and doing the little steps that will take you there one day, one moment at a time. The reason so many dreams are not realized is because we can get caught up in dreaming the dream and not doing the work toward that dream in the moment. When someone builds a house they have the plans and design for a house but then it comes down to one board, one nail, one hammer, and each task, in the moment, moves the builder one step closer to the completion of the house.
I believe, I know, I am seeing every single days that dreams come true, and the thing is, the awesome thing, is that the whole process of working toward the dream is so much sweeter when we revel in every single moment of the journey toward that which our heart desires.
I am ready to work.
Before I begin I sit quietly, open palms resting on my thighs, I stare into a candle flame and chant my mantra, deeply, I feel the resonance inside my body all the way up to the top of my head. The humming, drumming, round of notes of the chant clears everything. Blockages, obsessions, fears, anxiety of any kind. Slowly, ever so slowly, and gently, the mantra tapers off and I move into silence. In the deepest part of meditation I feel the roots of my body, like the roots of a tree, going down, down, down into the earth. I am a towering tree, I am swaying in the breeze but my roots hold me steady. I don’t need to go anywhere else. I am here, in the moment, in this place, I am strong, I am soft, I am at peace. I might meditate for 15 minutes, I might meditate for an hour, but when I do I am ready to pick up my notebook and write and it all comes pouring out. The deepest work I do follows my meditation.
I am here, I am now, I am moving toward a dream but I am eating my way to it, bite by bite. It is delicious. It is satisfying, I want to suspend each moment in time because I know that each step takes me closer, and so each step, every moment along the way, is the exact moment I have waited for.
Sharpening a pencil is sacred. Opening my notebook is sacred. Picking up the tiny pug that lives in my lap is sacred. Taking a drink of water is sacred. And planning for these times of work is exquisite joy that, anchored in the moment is joy multiplied. It hums inside of us, it informs everything we do.
I kind of think of this dreaming our way into the future in the now like a slinky going down the steps. A slinky reaches over and out and then comes back down on the next step, it does this over and over but always comes back to the resting place on the step. Mindfulness does not slow us down, it anchors us in the present so we can plan and dream but in a very grounded way that will get the job done. I believe in this way everything, anything is possible. I believe there is limitless possibility available for all of us but we have not been taught how to plan for the dream and then take concrete steps to make it real. This has been my problem my whole life. I am a dreamer. I could dream up really fabulous dreams and then I would get lost in the dream, the longing, the aching for it, I would dissolve into tears as time went by and it didn’t come to pass but I was doing precious little in a concrete sense to make it happen.
Right now I am mapping out the year ahead, how I will build the school, what I will use, what technology and services I will incorporate, and so on but then I come back to today. First I drew out the twelve months, I divined the subject, the material, the theme for each month. With a map of the twelve months I then had to come back to the beginning with one month at a time, one day at a time. Each student will get a 30 page PDF at the beginning of each month. Now I go page by page within the topical month. On each page I have to find the right graphic, the right word, using an analogy that I have before it is like stringing beads, one bead at a time. In each mindful moment I am stringing a bead.
I do stop and find deep satisfaction seeing the string fill up with beads, evidence of the forward motion, the progress I am making. It is in the charting of this work done that you are given the energy, the impetus, the excitement to go on, but you keep coming back, bead by bead, until the necklace it done. Then, and only then, can you wear it.
Mindfulness is not just sitting there lollygagging around watching a butterfly or a bird at the feeder. It is that and that is beautiful, but it is a practice that grounds you and makes life real, concrete in a way that it may very likely never have felt before. Anxiety and fear are rooted in the future. Inner peace, calm, and total comfort in the moment at hand reminds you that in this moment you are okay, in this moment you are safe, in this moment you can do anything. You don’t get caught up in details that will need to be taken care of down the line with that sense of hopelessness, or the kind of helplessness that always took you over and made you give up before. There is the goal, there are the steps to get to the goal, and there are these precious, present moments to take care of, one at a time, so that by the time you get to the things you thought you could not do you can look back over the vast expanse of what you have already accomplished and you will know that you can do anything, one step, one day, one moment at a time.
In my 60th year I have taken a stand, on my own behalf. I believe in myself because I know that I can do anything I want to do. I know what my work is, I know what my skill set is, what talents I have developed and been trained in throughout the long decades of my life. I know where my joy lies, I know what makes my heart fill up with so much love it brims over. I have stopped dreaming of castles in the air in lieu of building a life that is the expression of all that I am, all that I have become, and all I know that I can be. I will build this school, I will help people change their lives and come to a gentle, loving acceptance of themselves, I will show them the incredible beings that they are, and we will live our way, in a concrete, down to earth way, into our futures together.
Step by step, inch by inch, moment by moment, miracles are happening. I have prepared fertile soil for them to grow, and right now I am planting my garden, seed by seed. My, what a glory it will be come spring…