Do we step into the present moment, or are we always there?
Physically we are always in the present moment, but our minds may be elsewhere. And so as we develop our minds for the purpose of self-mastery we first have to journey through the traumas of our early life.
I wish this were not the case. But it is. All people—from those far, far away to our next door neighbors—have had to pass through difficulties in their life, some much worse than others.
All of the healing that we try to do as we improve ourselves can be amplified if we make a decision each and every day to be in a frame of mind that expedites that healing. But having a conversation with ourselves to make that decision won’t guarantee success. Success will depend on our willingness to focus intently, practice new habits, and shatter old routines.
Again, having the proper frame of mind each and every day is a requirement. The frame of mind that we should make sure that we come from is that of love. Before we even open our eyes, we need to find the mindset directed towards love and get into it. I’d like to describe some specifics about doing so.
Just suppose for a moment that you were a person with a broken heart and you didn’t feel love for any human being. Even then, you could feel love for certain things such as the beauty of nature or possessions that you had.
Regarding my own experience, before I open my eyes I think of five things that I truly love. I start with things rather than people just to make it a little bit more challenging.
I love a beautiful sky. I love juice and smoothies, I love yoga, I love love love music, and I love to get organized.
I love it when I get a new pair of sneakers. I love the feeling I get when I complete a difficult project.
There are three books that I have next to my bed that I love very deeply because they helped me to change my mind for the better.
I love YouTube.
I love my socks.
I love the ocean.
I love every creature in the animal kingdom.
I love children and I love to watch them walk like little drunks.
I love the Beatles.
I love the drums.
I love the smell of Palo Santo, Sage, and Copal.
I love to create.
I love sports.
I love my body.
I love a brand new sharpie marker and an index card.
I love scented candles.
I love to do push-ups.
I love to watch big airplanes take off and land.
I loved skydiving.
I loved to train and fight Thai Boxing.
I love the hot sand.
I love to be on a boat out in strong seas and I love to scuba dive.
I love to run, I love to sprint, and I love to climb.
I love my children, I love my wife’s children, I love my wife, I love my mother, my father, and my sister.
I loved my grandparents when they were alive.
You might find it quite boring to review this particular list on a daily basis. But if I don’t actively think of these things before I open my eyes then I’m usually headed for trouble. If I don’t think of the things I love, I begin to think about the things that I don’t love so much. And I may start thinking about things that I hate. If I let my thoughts go in that direction then I’m likely to have a pretty shitty day.
The origins of lots of my negative thinking patterns begin with the choices I make as soon as I wake up. If I don’t make a choice to lift up my head and think of positive things then I’m likely to drop my head and slowly descend into negative things.
When we’re young we don’t have a lot of practice in how to control what we think about. We are usually not disciplined enough or willing to face the difficulty required to bring ourselves into a positive state of mind. But as we get older we have to take responsibility for doing that. No matter what has happened to us in the past, we can lift ourselves up by first and foremost lifting up our thoughts. It’s as simple as that.
I am a stickler for placing the right words and the right descriptions on the things that I believe to be facts. If I miscalculate and misunderstand one little concept that I hold dear, it’s possible that I’ll form the wrong attachments and set my mind in the wrong direction. For this reason, I have a problem with the age-old phrase “falling in love.”
When I think of love, I don’t see it as a fall—I see it as a lift. I don’t see anything that resembles falling. I see myself ascending when I think of love. When I am in love with my wife I am lifted to the highest heights.
In my life I have experienced pain in connection with romance and love. The pain that I felt was like falling or like stumbling. So today I no longer say that I fell in love with my wife. I say I ascended to love with my wife.
Perhaps this issue of semantics is splitting hairs to the point of being quite annoying to you. But it’s something that I need to do in order to keep my mind focused in on positivity: That focus is essential to me because I don’t want to waste any more f**king time.
Let me make it really simple. In the context of my desire to be an effective and focused person, I say that all of the things that were and are uncomfortable and painful to me are negative. And I will look to avoid them in the actions that I take. And I will say that all of the things that I consider to be pleasurable and comfortable and good for my life are positive. I can make those judgements with confidence provided that I am coming from a place of compassion.
I will look to and seek positive things and enjoy my life as I do so. I am no longer afraid to say that I don’t like something, and I don’t have to do the things I don’t like.
It’s quite different when you’re a kid, when you don’t like to go to school and you hate your math class, though. Man those years truly suck. Most kids don’t have the brain power to think positively when they’re bored to tears in their history class. So for those years of life we stacked up lots of experiences that we’re probably going to have to process or undo.
But as a grown-up, I don’t consider things that I do that are mundane and boring to be negative. For example, I don’t think that doing my laundry or cleaning the house are negative things. I recognize that there are lots of tasks that I must do to maintain my life. So I do those tasks with presence of mind and I stay in the moment when I do them, even if they’re not the most exciting things to do.
“Ascend into love” is a new concept for me. What I realize now is that I don’t just need an object to love such as a person, a new car, or a new juice machine. I don’t need those things to feel love. What I need to do is check in with myself and see what it is that I’m feeling right now. And sometimes I realize that I just feel numb.
Actually, sometimes it’s best if I’m not feeling that excited emotionally. If I’m very busy and have a lot of things to do then I don’t want to be distracted by feelings. I may just want to be doing the things that I need to be doing.
There were times in my life that my prevailing feeling was anxiety and I had to learn how to shut down the sensation. Those incidents of anxiety were too painful and too distracting. Today I am aware of where I’m at from moment to moment. Getting to that point came with practice. Someone told me to practice being aware of where I’m at from moment to moment as often as I could be. When I found that I was numb and not feeling, I’d close my eyes I’d take a deep breath and think about love.
I still do so, and sometimes it makes me uncomfortable because it feels corny. I thought I was supposed to be a tough guy, and tough guys weren’t supposed to think about love unless they were thinking about their own beauty. At least that’s how I grew up and saw my heroes in stupid movies behave.
So what I do from time to time throughout the day is allow my mind to elevate to all the things that I consider to be lovely. And I always make my way back to the thing that I love the most: I love to be alive. I completely surrender to the wonderful experience of being alive, and I say that with all my heart. It’s a deep, deep attachment that I cherish.
And if one day I am faced with the idea that I’m going to die, I will feel sad and I will cry. But I know that I will have the courage to face whatever comes next. That will be so because I will keep my mind focused on the ascension upward towards love.