This journey has taken me many places, but ultimately it’s a journey to the heart. To my heart.
As I described in my About section, Pique is a blog for those of us who are seeking personal transformation without personal tragedy. Those of us who have spent the first half of our lives achieving and acquiring and still want more. Not more stuff – there’s etsy for that – but a deeper understanding of who we are and why we’re here.
Who we are and why we’re here.
Week before last, I traveled to Lone Pine, California, to a place called The Great Space. Driving alone to the Houston airport at 3:30 in the morning to catch my 5:30 AM flight to LAX, my head asked, What am I doing? And my heart answered, Just trust.
So I flew to Los Angeles, hopped in a rental car with three complete strangers who had flown in from New York, St. Louis and Zurich, and drove nearly four hours north into the desert to a place I’ve never been. A speck on the map in the middle of the nowhere called Lone Pine.
For four days, as part of our Soul and Space retreat led by author, teacher and transformation guru Richard Moss, about a dozen of us stopped spinning our plates, became still, breathed, and tried to get to know ourselves (and each other) a little better. That’s what June has been for me. A chance (of a lifetime) to stop, be still, unwind and just be before I begin the next chapter of my life.
A tool Richard created to help people gain a deeper level of consciousness and awareness is his Mandala of Being. I first learned of this tool and practice from reading his book Inside-out Healing. Intrigued and wanting to know more, I read the precursor to that one, The Mandala of Being. I highly recommend both to anyone wanting to learn how to become more present (and I’d suggest you read them in that order).
One of the things I have realized along the way is that I have lived my life away. By that I mean, while I have been physically present in the moment, my mind has taken me somewhere else – to my To-Do list, to my thoughts and judgments about myself and others, and mostly to the future. Through Richard I have come to realize that none of that really exists. The only thing that exists is now.
According to the Mandala of Being, our minds take us to four places – the past, the future, you and me. What lies at the center of all of this is Now. Full consciousness and presence. A place few of us ever go, and if we do, it’s only for a fleeting moment. The rest are stories we tell ourselves, about our past (guilt, nostalgia, regret), future (fear and anxiety or hope), ourselves (grandiosity or depressiveness) and others (anger, jealousy, envy, hurt).
It is at once simple and complex, and I know I am not doing this justice. If you’re interested, you can look Richard and his work up.
OK, going out on a limb here… Probably the most interesting thing I took away from Lone Pine was the idea of Consciousness without an Object. In a nutshell, our identities are defined not by our core Selves but by something, outside of ourselves, an “object.” That object can be the past, which for better or worse we can’t shake. The “other” can be an infinite number of people or experiences to which we compare ourselves – not as smart as, thinner than, fatter than, not as big a house as, better than… Or the “other” can be your children, who make you a mother or father, or your parents, to whom you are a son or daughter. All identities or labels we place on ourselves by virtue of our relationship to or with others.
Who would you be, right now, if there were nothing or no one to compare yourself to?
I feel each of us owes ourselves 15 minutes a day to just be. To sit quietly and be present. To put the To-Do list on hold. To set aside our worries about the past or our hopes for the future. What we should be doing. What we might or should have done differently yesterday, a week ago or in our childhood. What our sons, or daughters, or students, or friends have done or should be doing or how we should be relating to them. Fifteen minutes to catch a glimpse of who we really are, without an object (past, future, you or me) to compare ourselves to.
Imagine yourself an onion. As you sit quietly, you begin to peel away the layers. The “I’m a mom.” layer. The “I’m a daughter.” layer. No comparisons, just you. Right here. Right now.
Who are you, at your core? What were you meant to do in this lifetime, beyond the day-to-day?
Will you figure this out in 15 minutes? No. But by setting aside just 15 minutes a day to be with your Self, you might, over time, get to know your Self better. If nothing else, you’ll be calmer and more centered.
Ask yourself, Who am I?