Five Steps to the Present Moment

You’ve probably heard that in order to arrive at a state of inner peace and deep relaxation, first, you have to connect fully to the present moment, the ‘here and now’. That’s why I like to call meditation the Practice of Presence. There are various techniques to connect to the present moment and to exercise your ‘silent muscles’. If you’ve experienced meditation with me, you will know that I don’t follow any specific concept or religion… Yet the basic steps to meditation are similar to most of the approaches I’ve explored. Let me introduce these steps to you with a little guidance. I trust this will support you in your practice!

Loving Kindness towards yourself: 

So often we are tied to complaints from our inner critic, who push us to do more, to be better or more efficient… Nothing wrong with self-development and growth, but we have to remember that in order to evolve, we need the fuel, the positive energy, which arises from self-love and appreciation. Adopt an attitude of gentle loving-kindness towards yourself. Breath it into your heart and let it be the main signpost in all stages of your meditation (actually, in your daily life too!). 

‘I am aware that every moment of my life, I am doing the very best I can. I am enough – exactly as I am.’

Acceptance:  

Acceptance in meditation means to be connected to whatsoever is going on in this moment – within as well as around you. Your thoughts, feelings, the situation, even the possible restlessness or rushing thoughts often arise at the start of your meditation practice. 

I am not implying that you should become a doormat for people, events, or circumstances in your daily life. Having healthy boundaries is essential for our life in this world.

For your meditation, however, I simply invite you to accept ‘what is’ authentic in you and to embrace it completely. The following steps will help you to expand this state. 

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ 

R. Niebuhr

Relaxation: 

Your mind, body, emotions, and spirit are interconnected. When you get tense or stressed, it makes it hard to think clearly and it is difficult to connect to a meditative space. When you start relaxing your body, the mind and emotions will naturally follow. You can become more grounded by focusing on the rhythm of your breathing so it becomes regular. Additionally, you can do a body scan and gently invite each part of your body to relax and soften. You may notice that as your body relaxes, your mind becomes less frantic, less harsh, softer. Thoughts may still be there but now you may notice there is a certain distance created. 

“As the body relaxes, the mind clears, the heart opens and there is a merging of body and soul, like a wave collapsing into the ocean.”

Non-Judgment:  

In the context of meditation practice, I perceive non-judgment as ‘letting go of any labeling or signposting’. Again, it touches all parts of our Being. ‘I should not think when I meditate’… ‘I should not feel restless.’ … or dividing emotions as ‘good or bad’… these are just some examples of judging which you may encounter within your practice. In meditation, you can let all these labels go. What matters is to observe what is going on within and around you in its full authenticity – without actively engaging, resisting, or fiddling with it. 

“With non-judgment, there is no division. When each part of you is lovingly embraced, integrity, wholeness, and transformation arise.”

Awareness: 

This quality is sometimes referred to as the ‘observer’ or ‘watcher’. It is the part of you that is simply AWARE. Metaphorically, you can imagine this space like the center of a hurricane – the calm, still, silent part of you which is calmly observing the context of your experience, here and now – your emotions, thoughts, body sensations, or the situation around you. By resting in your observer, you are connecting to your very core – the nourishing source of your inner peace, harmony, and creativity. The unique beauty of your Essence.

‘Above the clouds of the mind, there is a clear blue sky. I will meet you there.’

Self Love, Acceptance, Relaxation, Non-Judgment, and Awareness. These are proven practical steps to help you to sink into the nourishing space within you. They are interconnected, so even if here they are described as ‘steps’, it does not necessarily mean you have to practice them in this order. One element flows into the other, like the waves of the ocean that merge into and complement one another. Their common purpose is to bring you to your ‘inner home’. A warm space filled with a deep peace and satisfaction that comes from simply being present. 

From here, you can respond to life in a relaxed, healthy, and resourceful way.

With love,

Peter

Peter Harper is an experienced spiritual guide with more than 30 years of experience in meditation guidance and self-discovery retreats. Peter is the founder of The Drunken Monk Conscious Living project connecting spirituality with daily life.

Spiritual Activism: Being Mindful In Deep Connection

In this time we are living in, there are many changes happening around us, some are very positive. The world is becoming smaller and we are all seeing very clearly that we are part of a global family. This is a positive thing as the old divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant and we can have the opportunity to treat the whole planet as one living organism. On the other hand, we are on a very dangerous slide to complete environmental collapse as global warming and environmental destruction are increasing every day and governments are doing very little to make real change.

“It’s my conviction that we cannot change the world if we’re not able to change our way of thinking, our consciousness. Collective change in our way of thinking and seeing things is crucial. Without it, we cannot expect the world to change. Collective awakening is made of individual awakening. You have to wake yourself up first, and then those around you have a chance.”

Thich Nhat Hanh: “Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet”

First, we need to look very carefully at the source of all the problems we are facing today. How can we really solve a problem unless we find the real source? Otherwise, we are not uprooting the difficulties at their source and they will keep coming back again and again. Everything around us in the human realm has been created by our minds. Our cities, the internet, our country borders everything we have developed by the power of human consciousness. So many positive things have come and also many destructive things have come from this powerful human mind. So the solution to our problems must also come from our minds. How can we hope to eliminate the greed that destroys the amazon, the hatred that creates division and wars, and the ignorance leading to apathy so that nothing changes, if our mind is full of greed, hatred, and ignorance?

Real spiritual activism starts with ourselves. And from there it will spread outward to change the world

If we try to make an external change coming from an angry or fearful mind then our minds are burned first and then enemies are created, and the whole divisions of right and wrong start appearing. Suspicion and paranoia start to invade our minds and we see the governments or secret societies are out to enslave us or so many other fears can start to appear. The angry mind is not clear, it doesn’t make the right decisions and anger only creates more anger in ourselves and others.

If we try to make an external change with a greedy, self-obsessed mind then everything is seen only in relation to what benefits our personal ideas, not reality as it is. Again paranoia appears and we are caught in the trap of trying to protect what is ours, our country, our family, our livelihood, instead of seeing the interconnectedness of everything we only see through our paranoid lens of self-absorption fuelled by fear and insecurity.

If we are simply ignoring the situation, not taking action, pretending that these problems we are facing will just go away on their own, and we continue to avoid looking, feeling the enormous problems we are facing today, then we are really down a dangerous path. The human mind is an expert at fabricating reality and not so good at seeing things as they are. Especially if action is needed that will upset the comfort or security of the individual.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are no easy solutions to the problems we face internally and externally, but we can start with our own minds. We can see when actions are motivated by anger or fear and step back until clarity arises, then take action if needed. We can see when our minds are dominated by greed and we can create some space to feel the interconnection of all things, until clarity arises, then take action if needed. We can see our lazy comfort mind that pretends things are ok when the house is on fire, and wake it up. Clarity will come and we can take action if needed.

The awakening of clarity is the key to real solutions, and how we get clarity is through mindfulness.

A practice in mindfulness to develop clarity

Mindfulness practice is at the heart of Buddhist spiritual practice, essentially mindfulness means to be present and not be distracted. The whole heart of effective spiritual activism rides on our mindfulness. It is a practice in the sense that we have to be interested first of all in waking up from our anger, greed, and dullness, then we will automatically start to bring our attention to our lives in a mindful, deeper way. The best way to develop mindfulness is to put your full attention on the present moment. Whatever you are doing, do it in a mindful way. For instance: we may be eating a sandwich for lunch and instead of being completely there, tasting the sandwich, we may be talking with someone, scrolling through social media, or just lost in our heads. The moment has been lost, and in a real sense, if we are distracted in this way most of the time our whole life is lost. Our life exists in the present moment, not in a distracted mind running into the future or past.

So the simple practice is: when you are eating your meals, just be completely present with each moment. Eat mindfully.

Start with this and then move into other things in your life, like washing the dishes, cleaning the house, or working on the computer. Be mindful of each moment. But start with the small things, like eating. Let your mindfulness expand to your whole life, then it will move beyond you into your family, your town, your country, and the whole world. Imagine if everybody on the planet was interested in being mindful! What a different world this would be.

May all beings be mindful and loving.

Namaste

Kevin Sahaj

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

John Lennon

About Kevin Sahaj:

Kevin Sahaj is a dedicated yoga practitioner who has been studying and practicing yoga for 30 years. His approach to teaching is eclectic and draws from many different methods and teachings to help students align their lives towards awakening. His focus is to offer the right method for the individual according to their needs and aspirations. He is the life partner of Katiza Satya and together they are leading the Delight Yoga Teacher training and offering guidance in the spiritual direction of the school.