When I was in my 20s and 30s, I didn’t have any idea what being in the present moment actually meant.
I wanted to dream big, but the thought of such a thing overwhelmed me. The idea of a “Five Year Plan” was terrifying. I didn’t even know what I wanted from one day to the next. How on earth would I plan out the next five years of my life?
It took a long time to realise that as an introvert and an empath, much of what I was looking for in life lied within. The external manifestation of my mystical desires would simply be the proof in the pudding. I had no idea what this would even look like.
The many articles I read advised me how to manifest riches, be abundant, live a jet-set lifestyle, and travel the world. The truth is, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about any of that stuff. I thought I did, but I was wrong, which is why none of the manifestation magic ever rang true for me. I knew that all the stuff in the world was entirely meaningless without a peaceful heart.
Later I discovered that I actually love planning, but only planning with heart. I like to plan events and projects that bring benefit to others, and by extension to me—events that build toward my own happiness and well-being, and that of others. I like to plan things that grow community, and I love to teach people how to search deeply to find the heart within them.
Heart doesn’t arise unless we can be present in the moment. It doesn’t appear in the future when we get everything right. It appears right now because we get present with ourselves no matter what the circumstances. When it does happen, the magic really starts to unfold.
If we can make our dreams as small as the moment we are in, we will soon discover that everything grows out of this moment. Everything is in a constant state of flux and change; the choices we make each moment shape the moment that follows.
Fantasizing about our dream life will yield no riches if we are using it as an escape from the present moment.
It is not a case of bringing our ego-imposed future into our present moment, but a case of knowing the joy of this present moment so that we can have a future (no matter what the shape) that grows out of that joyful heart.
Therefore, it follows that for a certain thing to arise (for example, my next breath) conditions must be right for it. In the breath example, my lungs must be working, and I must be in a breathable atmosphere. This can be extended to almost anything. However, unless we can perceive this in the present moment, how will we sense and be in the full experience of the energy as it grows and changes within and around us? Without that experience, anything we gain will be hollow.
Life is a process of discovering what we are capable of. Even before this, however, let’s address what we really need. In this society where all our wants are met whenever we click our fingers, we think we should be able to “manifest” whatever we want—a glamorous lifestyle, a big house, a six-figure salary. I’m not saying you shouldn’t want or can’t have those things. They may be very enjoyable. However, once our needs have been met, whatever we have or don’t have, our capacity for joy is exponential.
It is usually our desire for more that causes us pain and sorrow.
I would ask, “How can I simplify my life to give more space for what is important? How can we reduce our desires to lessen the challenge of being happy? What do we really need when all is said and done?”
The Buddha is said to have taught that:
“He who is of few needs and easy to serve is close to finding peace.”
The opposite is also true.
How easy are you making it for this life experience to serve you up a plate full of happy?
What is the smallest experience that gives you a sense of joy? Birdsong? A sky full of fluffy clouds? A smiling child? Have we lost our ability to find real joy in the small things in life?
We don’t need more stuff and more experiences to make us happy. We just need to be with what is arising for us now.
Author: Shasha Crow
Image: Flickr/Motoki Plasticboystudio
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Callie Rushton