How to Open Yourself Up to the MomentNone By Sharon Salzberg
Susan, a meditation student, wrote me this: "When I'm feeling disconnected or lonely or anxious, I do my best to remember to pay attention to details. While paying attention does have a calming effect, I realize that paying attention—exquisite, extraordinary attention—is a way of falling in love. I can fall in love with the intricacies of a maple seed. I can fall in love with the sharp sound of the blue jays and squirrels fighting nearby. I can fall in love with the tension in my heart and throat when I think about the uncertainty of the coming months. This is a love that I consciously choose and that transforms any moment from one I'm rushing through or impatient with or not noticing to one I'm in love with."
The more we open to our present circumstances—our internal experience, as well as our relationships with others and the world around us—the more we create the conditions for happiness to blossom. Eventually, we come to realize that, in fact, everything we need to be happy is here right now, when we say yes to life.
Saying yes to life doesn't mean that we have to like what is taking place at every moment. And in fact, we grow and can make ourselves happier even by just noticing those moments we find we are saying “no” to life. One fall, I was in Santa Fe for a retreat with the Tibetan teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche. One rainy afternoon, I pulled into the parking lot of my hotel and noticed crowds of people trying to photograph the sky. I looked up and there was an incredible rainbow. I hopped out of the car to join the others in documenting the moment, but by the time my old iPhone turned on, the rainbow had disappeared. Instead, there were luminous pink clouds in the sky, which were also quite extraordinary. And yet I was disappointed. I fixated on the fact that I had neglected to buy a new iPhone rather than even thinking about the beauty of the rainbow, or even the clouds that remained. A few moments later, two women left the hotel and walked past me. I heard one of the women gasp. “Wow. Look at those amazing clouds,” she said to the other. It was at that moment that I realized I could be saying yes to life and I did. I was able to laugh at my habit to disconnect from the beauty of life by clinging to old tendencies, stories, judgments and criticisms. But as I laughed, I let go. I settled back into the moment, and I allowed my “no” to become a “yes.”
When we open to this moment and don't judge it or try to change it, even when we're suffering and wish it were otherwise, we tap into the spaciousness of mind that allows us to move forward skillfully, with discernment and joy. In other words, every aspect of our experience is included. No unwanted thought, emotion or bodily sensation is left behind. This is wholeness.
In her tenth book, meditation teacher and best-selling author Sharon Salzberg provides a groundbreaking toolkit of mindfulness exercises and meditation techniques that guide us to access a truer understanding of love—real love. Real Love explores love in three arenas of life: for oneself, love for an other, and love for all of life.
Excerpted from the book REAL LOVE by Sharon Salzberg. Copyright © 2017 by Sharon Salzberg. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved.
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