Last year I embarked on a new course of studies, or I should say, the studies found me, as they were a natural continuation of a path I had started many years before. I am a student at a remarkable place called Animá, participating in their Shamanic Path course. I'll explain more in another blog, reflecting on what a tremendous impact this has had on my life, but for now, want to share a recent lesson I've been working on and my efforts in trying to apply it to my life.
My current lesson is one on Presence. My teacher and guide explains it very eloquently, "Connection to self and place, and thus everything else we ever are or do, is enhanced by our degree of presence. It is both the 'here' and the 'now' in the expression 'be here now.' The shamanic expansion of identity, consciousness and awareness, as well as explorations of the boundless and timeless, are rooted in and empowered by our ability to intensely, wholly inhabit our current physical/ecological/spacial/social/emotional context... to intensely inhabit the current unfolding moment."
Yet there are many distractions in this world to keep one from being present. There are the obvious things like television and billboards, focusing on the weather not of the moment but of that in a few days, and the internet, like this blog, which keeps us glued to screens rather than to our immediate surroundings. But there are other hazards that keep us from being in the present as well, nostalgic memories of days past, worries about the unknown future, and speculation on events yet to happen.
The task of becoming ever present, ever aware of our surroundings can be an awakening to what is right in front of us, but to that which we've never seen or acknowledged before. It can be an emotional insight, a gift of discovering a part of selves that needs healing and love, or it can simply be noticing some physical detail, some object that we never knew was there, like a raccoon living under your house. In my studies and activities on being present, I have experienced both kinds, the tangible and the intangible. Today, I had one such reminder of the physical kind. And the real lesson was that it was not from my own awakening height of awareness, but from my son who is 4. As we all know, nothing like children to keep you in the present!
This one happend at the local market near our house. We don’t visit this market often, even though it is only 5 minutes away, because it is further up the hill past our house, usually we get items we need when we are “down” the hill in town in the other direction. But I went there today with my son on a quick errand. As we reached the back of the store he stopped and asked if I could pick him up so he could touch something up on the wall. I looked directly up above me to see a VERY large moose head attached to the wall. Oh my! I jumped in surprise. I had NO idea it was there! Even though I don’t visit this store often, how many times had I walked to the back and NEVER noticed not one, but TWO giant moose head trophies on the wall! This is especially amazing since I’m not one to support trophy hunting ~ so these types of things normally stand out for me. My, oh my. Being present indeed!
So it was a humorous gift from the universe to me, a present if you will, of not becoming too sure of myself on this path I've chosen. It was a humble reminder that there is always room to learn more, to grow further, and see deeper. And that the best lessons are not grand experiences outside of daily life, but right at hand, next to me in the produce aisle, standing only 40" tall, asking me simply to look up and notice what is right in front of me.