“There is something greater and purer than what the mouth utters. Silence illuminates our souls, whispers to our hearts, and brings them together. Silence separates us from ourselves, makes us sail the firmament of spirit, and brings us closer to heaven.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
No, you are not losing it. Yes, it is Friday. Yesterday, I lost it and took a much-needed hibernation from everything. I was physically and mentally exhausted and aside from a previously scheduled appointment, I took a day off — a “mental health” day, you might say. I took a day off, from not only blogging, but the art challenge and my yoga class. I answered my body’s call and I rested. After a good night’s sleep, I feel more like myself, and ready to re-enter the world. I apologize for the delayed post, but what can I say, I only human.
Being Fully Present: Summon Your Aliveness
When we are fully present, we offer our whole selves to whatever it is that we are doing. Our attention, our integrity, and our energy are all focused in the moment and on the task at hand. This is a powerful experience, and when we are in this state, we feel completely alive and invigorated. This kind of aliveness comes easily when we are absorbed in work or play that we love, but it is available to us in every moment, and we can learn to summon it regardless of what we are doing. Even tasks or jobs we don’t enjoy can become infused with the light of being present. The more present we are, the more meaningful our entire lives become.
Next time you find yourself fully engaged in the moment, whether you are making art, trying to solve an interesting puzzle, or talking to your best friend, you may want to take a moment to notice how you feel. You may observe that you are not thinking about what you need to do next, your body feels like it’s pleasantly humming, or your brain feels tingly. As you enjoy the feeling of being located entirely in the present moment, you can inform yourself that you may try to recall this feeling later. You might try this while driving home or getting ready for bed, allowing yourself to be just as engaged in that experience as you were in the earlier one.
The more we draw ourselves into the present moment, the more we honor the gift of our lives, and the more we honor the people around us. When we are fully present, we give and receive aliveness in equal measure. For today, try to be fully present in your daily activities and watch a new reality open for you. ~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om
How timely this article is! It comes at the exact time when I can truly identify with it. Yesterday, I dropped out of the world, away from its demands and expectations, away from to-do lists and away from my blog. I had no choice. The moment required it.
In my case, I’d been totally wrapped up in an art challenge in which an artist friend nominated me. I thought that the challenge required that I create three pieces of art each day for five days. The point of the challenge is to share your work with other artists. (I later learned that it was not necessary that the three pieces be newly made, only completed pieces.) Although it was “challenging,” I ended the first days, tired but with a feeling of accomplishments as I’d created nine new pieces. The fourth day was different.
The frenzy of the first three days finally hit me all at once. Exhausted though I was, I managed to complete two new pieces. Before I started the third, I received a phone call informing me that a friend from high school was dead. She was not a close friend, but she was kind, graceful and liked by all. She had sickle-cell anemia, long before I knew about the disease. At the time, those with sickle-cell rarely lived past 20 years of age. She, however, survived almost 20 years longer.
Because she was the fourth or fifth person from my high school class who’d died within the last year, the news hit me particularly hard. I was tired physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I just felt numb. The art challenge was far from my mind and all that I could think of were those days, so long ago , when we were young and innocent, with our whole lives ahead of us. In my case being fully present made it a reality that my youth was behind me, and the specter of death nearer. The fact is that there are times when the present moment brings with it pain and sadness, but as they inevitably go by, also the certainty that “this too shall pass.”
Yet, that is not the norm. As the article points out, it is in the present moment that we are fully engaged with our lives and all of its wonder. Neither the past, nor the future affords us this gift. In the present, our focus is on what is around us, not the past that we can’t change or the future that remains a mystery. In the present moment, we glimpse the funny dog-shaped cloud that rushes by overhead, the way the light travels through a prism causing an explosion of color, the hummingbird as it stops to quench its thirst, and the perfect flower that we walk by, as we moor thoughts in the past. In the blink of an eye, the present becomes the past, and it can never be reclaimed. The present holds the promise that guides us through the difficulties that are a part of life, and with it comes the assurance that it is okay to stop and rest, if only for a time.
Yes, it’s true that time waits for no one, and that is why every moment is so precious. Awareness ensures that we are participating in each moment of our lives, and seeing it as it is, the beauty, the sadness and the joy. Engaging in those moments are a valuable part of our journey.
As many of you know, I am participating in a five-day art challenge. The goal of the challenge is simply to share our work with other artists.
Today has been the most difficult one for me yet. Yesterday, I learned about the death of a former high school classmate. Given that there have been about four others within the past year, the news affected me deeply.
Today, I woke to weather that matched my mood — dreary. Unlike the last three days, I began the task with little enthusiasm. I found it impossible to get into a rhythm and to let my heart guide my work. As a result, I did not enjoy the process as much, and am not satisfied with the results. As it goes with life in general, I know that there is a morsel of wisdom hidden in today’s experience. Until now, it has escaped me, but it occurs to me that it is less about “doing,” and more about “being.”
Perhaps, I should have heeded my heart’s whispers, and instead of a harried day, chosen one of rest and contemplation. I’ve pushed myself to rise to the art challenge and so far, I’ve had fun doing it. Today, not so much.
I think that our need for a “mental health” day is, less a weakness or an ill-conceived reason to slack off, but an act of love and respect for our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being. In my case, I wanted to complete the challenge so badly that I allowed it to outweigh my need for a slower pace. In hindsight, I should have respected my true feelings and let go of the self-imposed expectations.
The lesson is that if we ignore our genuine thoughts and feelings, all that we do and are, will undoubtedly suffer the consequences. The real challenge is to surrender to what is and honor it. Today, I did not choose wisely.
In spite of.the end result, here are my three pieces for Day 4:
Exhausted, but triumphant. Those words best describe my feelings, on this the third day of the challenge. I’d completed two pieces and was working on the third when I received some very sad news. The news took the wind out of my sail and I had to stop for the day. So, the third piece is a portrait (from my imagination) commissioned by my sister for a friend. I love to draw faces, but with only 1 1/2 years of experience, I have a way to go. Anyway, she was my first commission, so I added her as my third. (For those of you who weren’t here for days one and two, go here and here.) And now, I present to you, my art work for Day 3: