It has been many months since I have sat at my computer to reflect on my life at Norumbega Farm. Much has transpired since I last wrote. It would be futile to attempt to summarize what has transpired since my last entry. The cycle of the seasons marches ever forward whether or not we pause to take note of the passage of time. What I can say that I have done with more discipline than I have mustered for my writing is to daily try to change the way that I view the passage of time.
Over a year ago I was introduced to a teacher of meditation by the name of Andy Pudicomb. A Brit who has studied Tibetan Buddhism for years, Pudicomb took his vows to become a Buddhist monk and resided in Buddhist monastery before coming to the realization that he wanted to share what he had learned with people outside of his world of fellow monks. He moved back to the United Kingdom and created an app for users of smart phones called Headspace.
Through this app subscribers can choose many customized guided meditation “packs” to address areas of struggle in their lives. Examples include but are not limited to: balance, stress, depression, anxiety, self-esteem etc. The Headspace subscriber chooses the pack he or she wishes to focus on, chooses the length of the session and then hopefully incorporates the meditation into a daily practice. Andy guides the student through the process also leaving space in each session for silence.
A fair question to ask of me would be how this meditation practice has changed the way I view the passage of time. The answer is both simple and complicated at the same time. The simple answer springs from the root of Andy’s teaching and in fact the root of all meditation practice, mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment to the exclusion of all other moments, past and anticipated. When practiced successfully, the past falls away and the future does not exist. The current moment is all that exists.
The complications arise from the fact that we human beings find it very difficult to “turn off” our thinking brains and truly inhabit only what is currently happening in each precious moment. With Andy’s guidance, I have found a pathway to glimpse the possibility of this amazing ability to truly just be where I am without analyzing how my past has brought me there or where I might be going in the next moment. I do this by focusing on my breath.
We all have to breath to live. Our bodies do this for us. We do not have to think about it. It just happens as an automatic system to keep us alive. Rarely had I taken the time to observe my breath and use it as a tool to combat the spinning of my overactive brain. Now that I have this simple but powerful tool in my possession, I am able to slow down my thoughts, put aside my past, not fret about my next task and just relish what my life is experiencing right now. Time takes on a new meaning when there is only “right now.”
Of course I will never master completely this way of being. I would not choose to if I could. There are times when my past should inform my present. There are times when the future must be planned for. What I do strive for is a way of being in my journey that does give me the ability to truly be present for the magic that happens in every moment of my life if I am but awake to see it.
With Andy’s guidance I can stop time and just be a witness to the wonderful mystery that is my life.