Present Moment Living

The Next First Step


When a Virginia leaf decays beneath my shoe change is coming.  But on the cusp of my first East Coast fall I cannot know the picture that so many hundreds of thousands of trees will create as their air cools.

My life; hundreds of thousands of unfathomable future moments. What they will look like, I do not know.  That a change is going to come, those first fallen leaves have already foretold.

If you try to answer the problem of your life with a solution from your mind, all you will end up watching are odd remakes of a better original.

There is a new story being told in each successive now. Only watch.  Only listen.  Pay no mind, rather, pay attention.  Then the author that wrote millions of leaves flaming into color will give you a sight into which you couldn’t possibly have spun any string of thoughts.


The Crazy Idea I Didn’t Know I Believed

LightIt wasn’t until a job training that focused on “positive discipline” for children that I realized I was walking around with an insane idea that greatly affected my relationships.

A slide in the presentation read, “It’s a crazy idea, really: to make children do better, they have to feel worse.”

Have you ever unknowingly operated from this crazy idea?  I know I have.  When I care about someone deeply and want their behavior to change, for their benefit or my own, I make them feel bad about it.  It sounds harsh, and consciously of course I wouldn’t try to make a loved one feel worse.  But up until this idea was exposed to me in such a clear manner, I was making people feel worse when trying to “help” them.

Human beings do this all the time, and not just when disciplining children.  We do this with our spouses, siblings, friends, and co-workers.

Jane Nelsen, author of the Positive Discipline series, talks about the deep roots of sprouting behavioral issues in children.  But how can we react when encountered with an adult close to us whose behavior we want to change?

That question cannot be answered in one small post.  But there are a few essential steps before you go about trying.

Firstly, take a look at the “man in the mirror.”  Ask yourself what parts of the issue bothering you, do you contain within yourself.

Then completely accept the other person as they are, and forgive them.

Lastly, become utterly present.  Let go of the unhappy story you are telling yourself and instead focus on the feeling of your hands and feet.  Feel the inhale and exhale of your breath.

While this won’t necessarily change someone else’s behavior, it will change yours.  Whatever you do in a state of presence will be positive and productive for everyone.  Of course the consequences of this presence will not be known until it is tried and tested.  I will attempt these steps the next time I feel the impulse to change someone else’s behavior through the old, criticizing manner. Comment and let me know how it goes for you!


Step 1 To Positive Change

Photo by Peter SperoWhen there is something you want to change about your life there is one vital first step. Whether it be a situation, a relationship, a feeling, or a lifestyle that needs to change, the necessary first step is always the same.

What is this important precursor to positive change? Simply put: acceptance.

Before change, before action, before decisions, accept what is. Your mind won’t want you to, because non-acceptance is its lifeblood.  But here is what the ever-present stream of thinking doesn’t know: when you are at peace with what is, whatever follows will be in alignment with that peace and create more of the like.


How To Move With Equanimity


I am sleeping in a new home tonight for the first time in five years.  Just yesterday I was struggling with the idea of how it would happen. The most helpful tool for staying in the moment, even when stressed, was reminding myself that whether I worried or not, it would happen just the same.  And wouldn’t you know, it happened.

Retaining equanimity does not mean that you don’t experience emotion.  Equanimity is allowing yourself to experience life in all of its manifestations, allowing life to be as it truly is.  In this way you become one with life, and are carried in the infinite flow of its energy.

As I experienced the ups and downs of my reactions through this transition, I was reminded by Swami Satchidananda, in an email from Weekly Words of Wisdom, how to ride the wave:

Reaching samadhi doesn’t means that you go into a trance or withdraw from life. If that were so, you can find a whole bunch of rocks sitting on a mountainside and you can say they are in samadhiSamadhi means you retain your equanimity, you still function in the world without losing your equanimity. You become like a good surfer: well balanced as you surf the waves. A good yogi will always be balanced and surf in the world, facing both ups and downs alike. You will never get hurt, depressed by a depression in a wave or excited by a crest of a wave going upward. You will still remain balanced. That means you are perfectly healthy. Nothing and nobody can make you sick or can shake you.

God bless you. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. (Swami Satchidananda)