Being fully present to life, experiencing the aliveness of now, means to be so in love with this moment that there is nowhere else you would rather be. That doesn’t necessarily mean that whatever is happening is wonderful or joyful. Brother Lawrence, 17th century Carmelite monk best known for his devotion and ability to bring God into every aspect of his life, found his bliss washing the pots and pans. He was in a state of joy every moment no matter what task or drudgery he was engaged in.
That kind of presence brings with it a joyful gratitude that is independent of the experiences or situations that are showing up in the world. Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process describes gratitude as the “fragrance of the present moment.” You can’t help but be in a state of gratitude when you are fully present, because it is only in the present moment that you can experience the joy.
Being present is the difference between playing in a football game and watching one as you listen to the commentators do a play-by-play of the action. It’s a big difference! I once watched a football game on television years ago that was played without commentators. Everything else about the game was normal – two opposing teams, dressed in uniforms, on a field, with a crowd, a football, two goal posts. However, I was so used to hearing a voice tell me what’s happening, I could hardly watch it! I was lost without the voice narrating the action for me.
I realized that my mind does the same thing. Always re-counting the story, commenting on what’s going on, and it has the effect of keeping me from being fully engaged. That is what keeps the joy locked up. So do we experience life as a documentary with narration or do we dive right in and really live it? As Michael Singer asks, “Are you living life or living mind?”
Living mind is one of fear, judgment, control, timetables, schedules, have tos, trying to put mystery into a box. Presence on the other hand, is messy, wild, creative, lively, spontaneous, unpredictable, soulful, coloring outside the lines. That may sound scary to walk on the wild side but its safety lies in tapping into our Higher Self, surrendering to our own soul force, being in the flow of divine presence.
We are always in the presence of our Higher Self, we have just been so mesmerized by the commentator’s play-by-play, that we haven’t experienced that Truth. It is through focusing on the breath, sinking awareness deep within and quieting the internal commentator that we can fall in love with this moment and dive deep into the mystery. Because life isn’t a spectator sport.