Part I of III
Part II of III
Conscious Daily Living
Part I of III by Diana Mitchell
Life is big. To make it manageable I decided to simplify. My choice was to deliberately reduce focus to what is happening right now; whatís in front of my nose. To help achieve simplification of my own life, I determined to consciously be present with the here-and-now. I didnít exclude thoughtful planning for a future at all, however chose to separate planning for that elusive, mysterious future from the bigger job of living each day to my utmost.
This was backwards from what Iíd thought was Ďthe wayí to go about things. Before, I seemed to have accepted that future-think was somehow more important than consciously focusing primarily on now. That social training about ants and grasshoppers had me believing the ant was the long-term planner, when in fact s/heís the one making the present work so well that it makes a positive future more likely. The grasshopper is just having fun. More on that another day.
I really believe that the here and now are fairly susceptible to my influence. Iíve learned that trying too much to influence the future is like trying to be five seven. Canít do it. What IS possible is taking responsibility for my actions right now. Thatís a good thing. Itís do-able, big enough, and I can more often achieve something good through doing the right thing now, than I can count on some future that might not present itself. And you know something? The future was what I tried to see last week but couldnít. I can see whatís in front of my nose because I have committed to that and it is possible. I can do that. I cannot see around corners.
How to live consciously each day was something I couldnít find in a recipe book. So I thought long and hard, twiddled and tweaked until I came up with a workable set of practices. Here they are.
When I first wake up I thank some unknown Ďout thereí for the gift of this day. I run through a little list of what Iím thankful for: my children and their partners; friends; life itself; home; garden; music; books; paints; health; laughter; light. The list varies a bit from day to day. I just let it unfold.
Then I lie there and meditate for about fifteen minutes, seeking the Light and relaxing. Having practised this routine for a long time, it comes easily, is familiar, cheering, and energizing. Iíve looked at the clock just before going into the routine and just after so know that I drift back into full awareness of my surroundings in about fifteen minutes. Practise!
While meditating/relaxing and seeking the Light often a lovely bright, attractively- hued light appears behind my eyelids. When that occurs, I suspect Iím in alpha or theta rhythm of brain wave pattern and extremely relaxed. Itís wonderful. Like floating in a warm, gently rocking pool.
During this period I listen - not with effort, but quietly. For what? Well, I donít have a specific expectation of what it is Iím listening for...I just listen. Often I experience a leading, a knowing this is the way to go today. Sometimes the simple listening is enough and I donít have answers, nor do I have questions. If that sounds strange, it wonít once youíve practised this for a while yourself. Via constant practise, I have become a really good listener, and that in itself is a great thing; very handy in the bigger living of life. This early morning quiet listening and relaxing unfailingly let me start the day calm and energized. The last thing I do, before rising, is to re-commit to conscious daily living in the here and now today. To live in the Spirit of optimism as well.
I believe Spirit just IS. That it isnít something any one of us needs to worry about evolving at all. What is required is to allow ourselves to experience Spirit; to be open to the matters we deem intuitive, or just there, and to incorporate those into our daily practices. But also I have the capacity to discern which leadings fit with my beliefs. There is a certain amount of capriciousness to the leadings I experience. Beware! That could happen to you.
For example, in a moment I may get a thought to pour hot tar on my fractious neighbour. I donít ever do that because of a choice of belief that to be completely non-violent is good. Non-violence is a conscious, philosophically- and ethically-based choice deriving from a strong belief in what is right. I also am smart enough to know that that was a thought deriving from some place in me that is not Spirit driven, and it definitely is NOT a leading. It is not based on a true belief of how I want to live life today.
What I had to do, then, before forming this practice of conscious daily living, was have a few talks with myself, and loads more with others, canvassing beliefs before I settled on my own. I think articulating a set of basic beliefs is one of those adult things that is really necessary if I am ever to stand on my own moral footings, and avoid being a victim of uncertainty, wishy washiness, or corruption. Itís an adult Right of Passage thing, to come up with clear beliefs that youíll allow to guide your behaviours, donít you think? A truly grown-up thing.
So, beliefs thought out, I memorized them. Seem strange? Heck, it was something I figured is necessary. Knowing right away, rather than wondering ďWhat do I really believe about this, and therefore what is the right action to take, or words to choose, or thoughts to think?Ē is useful. I didnít want to vacillate on beliefs. I wanted to be sure. I wanted my actions to coincide harmoniously with true beliefs, without a big lag-time for me to try to figure this out each time I was challenged to act from my beliefs.
Leadings are not simply shaped by my own personal choice of beliefs, however. They surely must sometimes come unbidden from the Universe? I am a part of the Universe, but a dot, just a dot. There is a huge, boundless source of leadings out there. Thatís one of the exotic, gorgeous aspects of knowing Iím being led to do or be something/someone: it can walk right in and lead me to do the right thing. You never know when this will happen, so itís important to learn to listen for a leading: listen for that still, small Inner Voice.
One thing I do know, though, is that I exit the morning practice fresh and ready for living the day consciously. Iím alert and listening. Now, that listening thing merits a closer look, because in the practice of conscious daily living, beliefs memorized and in my mental pocket, I can be confident that Iíll do a better job of living the beliefs than if I just went onto auto-pilot. However, I also KNOW I am openly listening and watching my chunk of the cosmos because signs will crop up that I will do well to notice.
There will be a nuance in the tone of my daughterís voice that is so subtle that without consciously listening from Spirit I likely wouldnít notice. There will be a shifting in smell that, without listening and looking from Spirit I would miss and hence not realize the dog is alert to the presence of something new on the scene...and the eggs would burn in the pan. There will be a tiny bell going off inside that heralds a need to stop and re-evaluate, or that ignoring will allow me to take on one job too many.
Listening is a skill that requires conscious daily practise. Itís worthwhile practising because the best listeners are often the best at choosing the right path to take and taking it.
During the day, when I Ďhearí a bell going
off inside myself, I practise stopping, re-evaluating, calming, and
choosing the path to take next. I will not allow myself to be rushed into
making the decision if it does not easily come to me. It WILL easily come
to me in most cases, especially when I follow this ritual of allowing
myself to listen to the bells, quiet to find out what is causing them, and
then decide what to do. If the leading is not there, I have committed to
buying time until I figure it out. Less and less do I let myself get
pulled into action by pressure to conform, to appear to know, to be on the
That means having good lines ready to offer so that others around me, and I also, know whatís going on. ďIíd like to think about that and will get back to youĒ (state when.) Or, ďIíll consider this before deciding. Itís very important to me to know I can take this on and see it to the end.Ē Or, ďThat will require some thoughtful consideration before I can decide.Ē Or, ďWhat DO I want to say about this?Ē
These are the sorts of statements and questions I find so useful. Youíll figure out your own lines, and will borrow what you think will work from others. Remember, you may be clumsy at first, but falling down means youíre learning. Practise, practise, practise and youíll get really good at conscious daily living : living from the Spirit and from your true beliefs.
Try out a lot of different approaches that will get you stopping, thinking, discussing, pondering until you come up with your own decision for action, or inaction. Why on earth would we put less time into decision-making than we put into picking out a new shirt? Conscious daily living means we are operating more from our well-thought out beliefs, by choices based ON those, than simply being reactive to emotions, othersí wishes and so on. We also are open to leadings, intuition, Spirit when we are sure of our beliefs and consciously listening. The more we practise, the more all this gets to be quick, and the more we actually feel we are being spontaneous. Itís a new spontaneity that includes our true beliefs, and brings a security with it.
I repeat the morningís routine at night, once I have gotten into bed and before going off to sleep. Whether I watch tv, read a book, or??? (censored out here), I follow with the practice of reviewing the day, giving thanks for the gift it has been, and saying to myself, ďTomorrow is a new day. We begin again.Ē I acknowledge the Spirit in me, my relationship with God/Good/the Universe, and the small part I play as a dot in all those great partnerships.
Try it. Youíll love it!
Conscious Daily Living
Part II of III by Diana Mitchell
Have you been practising listening for your inner voice, following your leadings, being thankful morning and night for being alive, and living more in the moment? Remember, what you practise, you get good a : so, best to consciously pick what you will practise, because you WILL get to be good at it.
What about fun? Do you consciously fit fun into your daily life? I hope so, because fun people areÖwellÖfun to be with! Have you had the experience of getting completely caught up in someone elseís laughter, and letting Ďer rip because it feels so good? Isnít it a great thing? But how often are YOU the one laughing and getting others caught up in that?
We know that laughter is the best medicine, and that people who laugh a lot feel better than those who donít. Children laugh spontaneously just way, way more than adults do. And kids just naturally feel good a lot of the time if we leave them to be kids.
Somehow we allow ourselves to lose that part of ourselves, that child, as we grow toward and through adulthood. What a good thing to consciously decide to recapture. The child in myself. Being willing to see the funny side of what happens and to laugh with it, not always at it, is such a release.
Have you someone who comes to mind who seems to pick the negative in most situations and talk, moan, focus on it? Does someone else come to mind who seems to see that same event and can laugh about it when it goes sideways?
Wouldnít you rather be around the laugher? I would. So I choose to each day look for the sunny side. Not like some bubble headed Pollyanna because thatís not only irritating but also itís unreal. But being balanced means I can and will see the whole picture and if that picture is black, will look around for the Light that it always brings too. The darkest experience will provide a lesson that is valuable. And black humour IS humour. It can make me laugh at the darndest things. How Ďbout you?
Being willing to see the light side is a conscious decision you can make each day. Be on the lookout for it and you will have way more fun than the dour, sour, negative-thinking person you try to avoid.
As well, you will be producing endorphins and serotonin. And those feel-good chemicals will keep your energy up, your spirit nourished, your eyes bright, and your will to live in the present healthy.
Consciously slotting in fun activities each day is a practice you can include until it becomes a habit. NOT having fun activities on your daily plan is a habit. So change the habit of excluding fun to a habit of including it. What you practise, you get to be good at. Choose a habit that makes you feel great, makes you healthier, happier and more fun.
Go to Part I