Monday, May 20, 2013

Wherever You Go, There You Are – or Not

At the end of every year I choose a short saying or quote to carry around with me (figuratively speaking) for the upcoming year. I spend the year focusing on that saying as a long-term meditation. This practice has deeply impacted my life.

Last December I randomly chose one of the suggestions a reader made on a blog post about my yearly meditation. The saying: Wherever you go, there you are.

I have to admit, my first thought was that this is a trite cliché, almost a joke, but then I recalled that some of my most profound meditative experiences have come from the simplest subjects. So I accepted the sentence and tucked it into my mind as my constant background thought.

For a while it lay quiet, dormant if you will, unless I chose to focus on it purposely. But lately it has been popping up into my consciousness on occasions when I’m not living up to it.

Now you’re laughing, right? Because it’s not possible to go somewhere and not be there. Except it is.

I’m not looking at the literal meaning of the saying. Of course, if I walk into the next room, I (my body) will be there. But is *all of me* really there? Not always.

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself doing the following:

- Thinking about activities that won’t happen for days while I’m working on an unrelated writing project.

- Constructing my reply while the other person is still talking.

- Worrying about something that happened last week while I’m designing a Tarot card.

In all these cases, I’m not really *there.* My focus, my consciousness, is somewhere else and not trained on the activity at hand. In other words, I’m not present. I’m not giving my full attention and focus to whatever is going on at the moment, but instead I’m draining my energy away into the past or the future.

It’s a longtime habit, and one that’s hard to break. But this year’s meditation is pushing me to notice when I’m not present, and bringing a habit up to conscious awareness is the first step toward ridding yourself of it. So I’m hopeful that this is a positive first step.

I can only imagine how much more empowered I’ll feel when I’m able to maintain mental and emotional presence most of the time. I’m looking forward to it.

I guess it all boils down to those three words Ram Dass made famous: Be here now.