Awakening to the Present Moment: The Lotus and the Woodpecker

woodpeckerI’M NOT PICKY about when or where I meditate. When the urge strikes, I sit quietly, inhale deeply, and wait for my guides to come through. One evening, I had a strong intuition to meditate. I lit some incense and white candles and sat in my recliner. I closed my eyes, allowing my hands and fingers to form, automatically, a familiar mudra.

In my mind’s ear, I clearly discerned a phrase I had come across earlier that day — something about living in the eternal now. What at first had seemed like a consciousness catchphrase now blazed with chilling clarity: we live in a very, very long and very, vast space of no-time.

We picture our lives as moving forward in time, a procession of neat little calendared cubbyholes, but the essence of what we are — our true nature — is Spiritual, and therefore, Infinite. Our journey is not a linear trek. Instead, we travel an ever-rising path, moving upward, expanding into our higher selves. Eventually we become the guides and ascended masters who now harbor compassion for us in our currently dense condition here on Earth.

I cannot express fully the joy and freedom this awareness brings. This brilliant realization has eclipsed any feelings of lack and curbed any emergent drive toward acquisitiveness. Moving softly and steadily into each moment of the eternal now, I am filled with feelings of calm, peace, and happiness toward my surroundings. A child of the Universe, I am already, and will always be, exactly where I belong.

Why should I long for things I do not have? Why should I worry that I haven’t yet landed my dream home, a log cabin in the woods with a sweat lodge? Lao Tzu profoundly admonishes, “When you realize that nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” I already have everything I need, since my journey toward the light is immeasurable. There is no real beginning or end. I am, therefore, situated squarely in the present moment every single moment.

A control freak since birth, I have since let go of my clenched, beautiful brain and just let the universe take its course. There is nothing passive about this stance. Rather, it is an active, open gaze of awareness I turn toward the light that surrounds me. That’s what they mean: all those cryptic, Eastern teachers wish us to understand that the same lotus blossom that begins its life mired in murky mud will eventually unfold its soft, pale pink petals to the yellow-white light of a noon-day sun.

The strident chirp of a pileated woodpecker calls insistently from the fancy suet feeder at my fourth-floor balcony. He’s scolding me for having opened the vertical blinds, thus compromising his peaceful and present moment with berries, seed and peanut butter. He doesn’t need workshops or tapes; he’s already living existentially. Every blue-white moment in his infinite sky is heaven. We, in our arrogance, think of them as dumb or blind creatures, but in many ways, birds are more attuned than humans. No one need instruct them to sing the sunrise into being or usher in the sudden sluicing of horizontal winds full of early autumn rain.

As I awaken in meditation, I resolve to embrace the luxuriousness of every moment without worry, without judgment, without despair. Is that not happiness?

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Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.



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