Awakening Practice

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When the Buddha was asked if he was a god, his response was, “I am awake.” What does it mean to be awake? It means to be present in the moment and aware that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. To be awake is to connect the spiritual and human aspects of life. We do this by making choices of where to place our attention.

As human beings, we experience physical and emotional discomfort. We are subject to the natural laws of planet Earth, such as gravity and seasons.

Our spiritual self is unlimited, eternal, created in the image of the One, filled with gratitude, compassion and joy. We believe that everything is infused with the holy. We are all connected, part of one web of life.

The Divine or The Source or The One is mystery and ineffable because Divinity is beyond our human ability to describe. The arts bypass the logical to point to the miraculous, what is beyond human comprehension and indescribable. They activate our senses to transcend them and therefore, have a deep impact on us.

How do we cultivate presence in daily life, through ordinary circumstances? How do we hold onto the belief in Divine Order and Divine Love when our lives are collapsing? Where do we find solace when our lives derail? When we are blindsided by betrayal, loss, illness and upheaval? When we are struggling to survive?

We are not our circumstances. We are spiritual beings capable of accessing the Divine within. We are all capable of attuning ourselves to our own inner wisdom and the potential to live from our highest self.

Many of us know the value of paying attention in the moment. Mindfulness includes paying attention to breath and body, to movement and stillness, and to our senses, with acceptance and without judgement. Can we pay attention during the ordinary moments of our day? When we are engaged in other activities, such as walking or driving, cooking or cleaning, speaking on the phone, typing on the computer, taking out the garbage?

Take a pause and notice where and how you are sitting or standing. In a monastery, a bell is rung on the hour to remind the monks to stop and pray. Can we set our internal clock to remind us to pay attention to this moment? Pause your busy mind and focus on what you are experiencing in your body, and especially your breath.

Writing is a part of my daily spiritual practice. Writing opens our hearts so that we can be authentic. When healing from emotional wounds or coping with depression and/or anxiety, writing can guide us to greater self-awareness and self-acceptance. It can help us self-regulate in order to alleviate stress. It can access inner guidance. We can let down the façade and explore what we yearn for, what our passions are, and what gives us solace and spiritual nourishment.

What I learned is that when I write, there are two paths. One will take me deeper into the story: what happened to me and how I feel about it. There is no end to that branch of the story, because the emotional pull is powerful. Or I can choose another branch: what it means, what patterns I see, where it leads me, what has been the lesson, how I can change and transform. Where do I find inner courage and strength, what are my blessings? After experiencing profound loss in my life, I deliberately chose that branch over and over. I began to heal and eventually to experience real joy. An inner knowing that I am where I am meant to be, that I am connected to others in deep ways and that I love my life. I am blessed. I am grateful.

When thoughts of fear, grief, despair and disempowerment overwhelm us, we can take out a journal and write: “In the silence I notice — and deliberately choose to follow my own insights rather than the emotional pull.” What are the hidden blessings in the moment? Who are you? Awaken to the Divine within you.

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