A short chapter on the journey towards conscious living. Separation leads to frustration and gradually can lead to aggression. Gordon Neufeld talks about it with his clear voice in “Hold on to Your Kids” which he wrote with Gabor Maté.
I can see what happens when I am too busy with work and separated from my son, or when he is too long in the kindergarten, how the separation from us, the parents, affects his behaviour. But what about us, so-called adults, we also experience separation, constantly. We were thought that separation is the normal state of reality. But here is the old news, it comes down to a state of mind, cultivated by the culture of individualism where the egoistic mind constantly confirms the story of separation and separates us from our true nature of present and awareness of what is alive and real right now. Living in disconnection from other species, from nature and from other humans, sometimes, from those whom we love most leads to suffering.
When we move, when we dance, do yoga or any other embodied practice, there is a sense of growth and expansion. It is as if we are going beyond our borders towards something bigger than us. This is a process of extension and connection. Not only that I am connected to my body and mind, but I am also connected to my environment, the space around me, the objects in the room and other people who are holding the same focus and aim as me. But out of the practice, many times the busy mind doesn’t allow us to experience the present moment and expansion. That’s how our daily routine becomes many moments that we want to skip to a futuristic time where we will be content somehow.
When the mind doesn’t allow us to be present we are cut out of a sense of unity with ourselves and others and the possibility to grow beyond the distractions and the stories of it are limiting. We forget or deny that we are part of something bigger than our little stories. It is like a ripple thinks that he is separated from the ocean. It can never be separated, it might experience its individuality, strength, creativity or vulnerability, but is always part of the big sea, which he came from and will come back to. Same with a ray of light that is never separated from the sun and same with us humans, that are never separated from whatever you call it. I choose to call it life, or life force, or the unknown, God? it’s just a matter of which terminology suits you right now.
The fact is that we are never separated but living a delusion of separation which may lead to frustration, aggression and suffering. We have imprisoned ourselves in the thinking mind, which is separating us from the moment and from living presence. The way to break this vicious cycle is by bringing consciousness to each and every moment, especially when we are triggered by somebody or something.
But how do we do it? How can we break the cycle? When I move, breathe, dance or stretch my muscles, or write these words, I can experience the space around me, the sense of my body, and slowly I can realise where is my mind. I simply ask it to stay here, not to go anywhere else, not into stories, planning or memory and just to experience the physical sensations rather than the illusions of the mind. To come back to the breath helps, to find physical anchor, direction or focus, to feel my feet on the ground, my surroundings, the people I am sharing the space with, or if alone, the colours of the room, the flowers in the vase or the trees outside. All those are little stepping stones to the present moment, a refuge we can take and come back to whenever we remember or are being reminded.
Last Sunday I went with my family to the forest. This is our favourite Sunday activity. Taking the bus up the hills around Vienna, I was looking for an anchor that can help me to be back to the present moment. With three kids, you need to come back to your presence much often. I looked at the sky, my mind was quiet, I looked at the trees that moved while driving, it helped as well, I tried to let go of any distractions, it all was ok, but when I looked at my son, something changed.
Many times when I look at him, a four and a half-year-old boy, my mind starts to tell me some stories, which, when I am not conscious, tend to deliver to him, it may sound like: ‘do this… don’t do that or look at this… why do you do that, stop with this and so. This time, I only observed and acknowledged him. No comments inside, no inner talk, no mind stories, just pure conscious awareness. It was a beautiful moment for me. Suddenly, I experienced deep silence within, my heart start to expand towards him, I became softer, loving and kind to him without doing anything, just being. I saw a sweet little boy, very naive, very curious, watching the view out of the window. This boy is my son, and I felt how much I love him. No more story.
It was a sensation I wanted to hold on to. I tried to stay with this sensation as long as I could and I try to come back to it as often as I can when approaching him, especially when things are not so nice and sweet.
When the mind doesn’t clutter the present moment, the heart is opening a window to our true nature of love, compassion and freedom. Thanks for reading so far, please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with me. I am curious to hear from you. May we stay present, conscious and connected.