Last night at Samaritan Inn, I was most pleasantly surprised by a couple of fellow Deacons and Sigma Nu Brothers who joined in on the volunteering bonanza, otherwise referred to as serving dinner to the homeless.
One experience we talked about was my abroad experience in Australia, a time that I hadn’t thought much about in a while. During the actual experience of Australia, I remember not enjoying it so much yet also doing a lot of exploring, both internally and externally. I discovered a lot about myself, about people, and the world.
If I were to attempt to summarize my experience abroad in a single word, I’d have to go with…Drinking! Wine bags, known as goonsacks down under, were an accoutrement of daily festivities three to five nights of the week. A lot of drinking occurred, as did a lot of going to bars where music blasted so loudly that I could hardly hear my own voice. Now and even at the time I was participating in such frivolities, I wondered, “Why?” (A good question we could all ask ourselves more often!)
How many times do we have to poison ourselves and experience pain before we finally learn our lesson that allows us to change our behavior to better our experience of life? I conformed like tumbleweed to the will of the wind while down under, and will readily admit that the conforming did not bring my body or mind much delight. Occasionally, after a hefty number of swigs from the goonsack, I would have a good time, but…it’s pretty easy to do that when you lose the sense of the past and come more fully into the present.
Interestingly, forgetting about the past and the future, a state that commonly occurs after a sufficient indulgence in alcohol, is currently a state I find myself a lot in currently, except now I do it without the drugs. Not to say that I am losing my memory or damaging my body and mind in some other way, but rather I’ve been growing my awareness to focus more fully in the present moment, partially thanks to the glorious practice of meditation!
Along with cultivating this Present-Minded Awareness, I’ve also grown in acceptance of both the past and the present. If I find myself in circumstances I do not like, I change what I can and let go of all that which is beyond my control. One of the best things any of us can do is to enjoy the present moment and lovingly accept everything as it is, exactly as it is, here and now.
With cultivating this state of living in the Present, many people have accused me of being on drugs. And, I guess I should probably admit I have been on this drug called Oxygen. It’s a trip. The pursuit of virtuous living and Oneness are also pretty great rides to go on.
The Difference Between Conscious Awareness of the Body and Alcoholic Buzzin’
As much as both a consciously focused mind and alcohol can bring us into enjoyment of this Present Moment, only one of the practices is sustainable. A buzz from alcohol might last for a few hours and give you a terrible hangover in the morning, but a buzz from consciously focusing on the body is attainable at any moment and can serve you a lifetime.
Drinking alcohol can temporarily bump us into a state of higher consciousness by heightening our awareness of our body and sometimes causing us to forget about the past. Unfortunately, alcohol has a lot of other negative side affects that doesn’t make it as fruitful a choice as say…meditation. The good news is that we can become aware of our body and live in the joy of the Present Moment without alcohol too. Cultivate the mind and experience the joy!
Using the Mind to Experience that Same Joy you get from Alcohol
The mind is a magnificent piece of equipment that can do so much beyond what most of us might consider “normal.” For this reason, I’m not a big fan of notions of “normal,” but we’ll save that rant for another time. Briefly, whenever we think of what’s “normal,” we are limiting ourselves to the confines of cultural programming and group-think rather than cherishing the gifts given to us at birth. When we choose to start thinking for ourselves and not being trapped by dogma (as Steve Jobs would say), then we will more fully to awaken to what systems we participate, how we live our lives, and our True Nature.
So…back to the mind. To tune into the Present Moment, simply focus! Look at your left hand. Now hone your focus even more on just your left thumb. Do you feel your thumb? You should feel your thumb as warm and vibrating. You can also tell your thumb to relax and you will become even more aware of the feelings in your thumb. You can do this with every part of your body, and the more you do it, the more you will feel your body and grow in awareness of the Present.
When looking at, thinking, and feeling your thumb, did anything really change about your thumb? All you did was shift your focus, and suddenly your experience grew to realize more deeply the presence of your thumb and the energy in it. Our body, like all objects, is constantly vibrating, yet it’s pretty easy to forget about this idea or at least not experience it in our every moment. But, doesn’t it feel good to be aware of your thumb? You can do that with your whole body!
Whatever we focus on, we experience. We can consciously choose to relax our whole body and feel great. We can also choose to focus on Love, Forgiveness, Beauty, Reverence for Life, Gratitude – anything we want to focus on and create! It is up to you.
The relaxing of the body is a common first step people do when meditating. When the body is relaxed, it becomes easier to focus the mind on whatever it is we want to create. So relax, feel good, focus on your ideal, and create that wonderful world which you believe is good!