This month I have spent some time considering how often I am “living the Principles”, and how often I forget. I haven’t done this in an effort to judge myself, but in an effort to feel compassion for just how easily it is to be hoodwinked, and forget that we are the thinker and creator of our experience. I’ve also been curious if I’ve missed out on some of the benefits of the Principles by paying more attention to what they are and how they can be shared then actually seeing it in a deeply profound way for myself. I’ve noticed over and over again, how real our thinking can look, until it doesn’t anymore. I’ve also noticed a few other things.
Past Present and Future.
You’ve all heard the saying:
What I first noticed was that each time I caught myself caught up in my thinking/feelings, I was either in the past – thinking about something that happened before this moment, or in the future worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet. I have noticed a new thought popping into my head more often – it says “What is going on Right Now?” When I am upset over something someone said yesterday, I realize that it is not happening now, and so it looks less useful to continue thinking about it. When I am worrying about finances, I realize that no matter what happens, I am ok right now. I also have noticed how much I miss on a day to day basis. I took a walk with my husband this week and got interrupted by a phone call. When the call ended, there was a clear sense of not having seen anything around me during the block that we had just walked. When I was worrying about something while sitting outside on our patio swing, I suddenly realized a chipmunk had been sitting in front of me for quite some time feasting on corn and I had not “seen” it there. I have been acutely aware of all that I am missing out on when I am not in the here and now and how often that happens. So I am “time traveling” less often.
I have always loved going to a store with my husband. He is one of the rare people I see that actually takes the time to connect with the cashier at every place he makes a purchase. I don’t mean saying – “How are you?” while looking at his phone. I mean he takes it all in – he notices the speed of their speech, their worry lines, their distractedness, their presence to him, and then he engages with them being fully present. He makes each one feel as if they are the most important thing in the room to him, even if only for a minute. When they respond to the almost obligatory (for many of us) question “How are you?” with an “I’m good” – his standard response is “wonderful”, and he means it. It makes them stop a minute and consider that someone in this world thinks it is wonderful that they are ok. It is what the coaching profession would call presence. He holds a space for them. He loves them. I endeavor to be more than merely present in my conversations, but to show presence. To be in a space with someone together. There is a difference that people can feel.
Questions and Problems
I am a professional problem solver – or at least my brain thinks I am. Not feeling well? What are the symptoms? When did it start? My first instinct is to solve puzzles. It’s amusing to my intellect – entertaining even, so that’s my default. When donations aren’t covering expenses it seems “urgent” to find a solution. What I notice is that when I am wound up, there are lots of “problems” to solve, but when I am in a better space – suddenly they turn into circumstances. Circumstances like an account being out of balance, or someone interrupting, or rain. There might still be things to do, have a fundraiser, show compassion, put on a coat, but none of it carries the weight of a problem or solution. In fact, in the midst of the largest “real” problems in my life, I did not view them as things to be fixed in a “must fix ” kind of way, I knew what was necessary and did it. The urgency of the feeling and the defining of a problem are clues that I am “time traveling”.
What comes with presence and circumstances and being in the present, is a sense of being IN your life. It is a sense of time slowing down, a sense of stillness and curiosity and wonder- a sense of playfulness. Next week we are playing around with how to craft an “Elevator Pitch” for the Three Principles. Although we will play with metaphors and language, to solve a perceived “problem”, there is something about the space we will be doing it in together which opens it up to so many more possibilities. I am very much looking forward to being “present”!
Wow. If you’re not already a member of the Inside Out Community, please consider joining the nearly 4500 others on there that are interested in the Principles! I helped Michael start this group years ago when I was working for him, and it has been a favorite haunt of mine for several reasons.
We Need Your Help
June 30th closed out another fiscal year for Center for Sustainable Change. We are so very grateful to all of you that have supported us over the years through donations and for those of you who have participated in our programming!
We are now starting our 14th year as an Nonprofit Organization sharing the Three Principles understanding with communities! We want to continue and expand upon the programs that you love, as well as make a bigger concentrated effort to reach people who are doing great community work – and show them how the Principles can make that work more effective.
More than ever, we need your help to keep our momentum going and make this possible!I Want to Help!