As I stood at the kitchen counter, preparing to press down on the Bodon coffee press, thoughts rose to the surface like the grounds at the top of the beaker. Coffee and a chocolate chip cookie, coffee and biscotti, the two go together like bread and butter.
I normally would reach for the cookie jar. I watched the thoughts materialize as I pressed slowly down on the handle, the feel of the screen depressing into the liquid, the aroma of the coffee in my nostrils. What caused the association? What is the habit in front of me? By being truly present in the moment, to the smell of the coffee, the feel of the press, the cool tile beneath my bare feet, I was not run by an urge to lift the monkey top from the cookie jar or split the cellophane wrap on a biscotti.
I just noticed my mind make the suggestion. I stood, just watching. Just noticing. The power of the Now. The power of being Present. An idea came up from this simple process of witnessing my internal chatter: This means something to you, this act of drinking coffee with a biscotti or a biscuit. What is that? I had never thought about this before. For the first time in three weeks I felt the urge to write and explore.
What came up first is an acknowledgement of what I needed to do for the past three weeks. I needed to be still, feed my soul, no output, go within, not meet some outer production expectation. I had been blasting myself for my lack of productivity.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle has consumed my mind and Being this past week, really two weeks. Reading, learning, making present the intangible. That was an unspoken priority. His writing is so clear and profound. Had to have it.
It’s been two or three weeks since I posted on my blog. “Bless me Father for I have sinned…it has been three weeks since my last confession.”
What came up next was an opportunity to relive the experience by describing the act of being my own Witness. After peeling back the layers I discovered this:
Coffee and a biscotti meet in some exotic fantasy of romance and intellectual, witty conversation. They conjure up an image of my sitting in a café in France or another glamourous city, enjoying a fresh light breeze, relaxation and recreation. Images of blue seas, white sand, simple pleasures. They symbolize a yearning for enjoyment, visual vistas, conviviality and social intercourse. They vaguely touch on romance and love.
I got how much I desire interweaving a pattern of adventure, romance and pleasure into my daily routine. I had no idea. Now what do I do with that?
I often tell my clients when we coach and they have shared their frustration at an inability to make a change, to stop trying to change.
“Just notice”. Don’t try to do anything, just begin to notice and make a note of what they see and experience, to make note of what is happening around them and in them during the week when the concern floats into their life situation.
It is the being in the present that makes the difference. Fully experiencing and noticing what is happening in the moment creates freedom of choice. When we do that we are not resisting or reacting, we are acting as the Witness. The secret here is often the shift occurs because we stop trying.
How do you anchor what you see? We each learn and experience life in so many ways. To write and journal, to put into words is essential for me to come to presence of the moment. It’s a paradox – the act of writing brings the experience fully present, even though the experience is now in the past. Depending on your learning style, this method may not be yours. It could be drawing what you feel, singing or writing a song, listening in the moment, moving. Find the best way for you to notice and then anchor what you see, feel, or experience.
With that said, don’t anchor what you notice as a final thing or “the answer” but notice as if that thought or feeling is a guest who has come for a visit. The guest is not you, they are someone other than you with their own way of impacting the present. When a guest comes in for a visit, they do not take up residence, they visit for a while and then go back to where they came from. When you treat a feeling like a welcomed guest as the feeling comes into your awareness you don’t need to be run by it. Just as you would not ignore a guest when they come for a visit, you can pay attention to the feeling as if it were separate and apart from you and allow it to leave when it is ready. It’s amazing how quickly that can happen when you are your own Witness.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the Power of Now and Change.
Consistency in my business practices, in my outreach, in allowing people to get to know me, build my on-line presence so that people know I am here so that I can contribute to others through coaching and gathering people together – this is what I truly desire. One way to do this is to post topics of interest that will help my clients regularly. I had made up the rule that I must post weekly on Tuesdays. I had not done so for two or three weeks. I had broken the Rule.
What is true about me whether in business or my personal life is my enslavement to the rules I make, and my tendency to follow them even when they no longer serve me. Creating a Rule is like creating a Habit. At first the habit serves you, but as you change or grow it can enslave you. Enslavement to The Rule, The Stopper, The Blocker, the Habit – that is the stumbling block, the Sin. And what is Sin? A wise priest once told me that Sin is separation from God. Simply that. Anything that separates us from God is Sin. It could be that biscotti or chocolate chip cookie. It could be putting my Rules above being with someone I love. It could be not being present to what my heart yearns for. And what is God? Absolute Being. And when do we connect with Being? When we are in the Now, present within Oneself.
To breakthrough habits or rules that no longer serve the first step is to connect with ones’ True Self, with ones’ Inner Being. The only way to do that is to get Present. Which brings me back to, “Bless me Father for I have sinned…it has been three weeks since my last confession.” I love to write. It is a confession of sort. What happens in confession is the Power of Presence.
Merriam-Webster defines confession as a written or spoken statement in which you say that you have done something wrong or committed a crime.: the act of telling people something that makes you embarrassed, ashamed, etc.: the act of telling your sins to God or to a priest.
Wikipedia states that A confession is a statement – made by a person or by a group of persons – acknowledging some personal fact that the person (or the group) would ostensibly prefer to keep hidden. The term presumes that the speaker is providing information that he believes the other party is not already aware of.
The second definition more closely represents what I mean. What is not included in the definition is the outcome of the act of confession or the true impact of the process of confession. In confession what happens is the ‘power of truth telling in the moment’ to someone whose only purpose is to listen fully, not to judge, but to listen from compassion, allows for release, coming into a neutral space, and a place where absolution can occur. When absolution occurs, we feel free like there is a clean slate and we can begin anew.
In practice the custom of a priest listening with compassion allows the person sharing their experience to release it and the priest gives absolution as an outside source or witness. The priest creates and holds the space for Presence – he incarnates the Power of the Now. The priest gives the absolution, yet it is the power of the NOW that allows the person confessing to forgive oneself and release the past, release the guilt. The beauty of that system is there is another person who ideally has learned how to be Present, who holds the space for someone who may not yet have the mental muscle to do it.
You can gain the mental and emotional muscle to do this.
By practicing presence and the act of being your own Witness you can create the same space for freedom, forgiveness and a place to choose a different behavior, a better way for you. It is as easy as beginning to “just notice” and watch what happens.
Ok, so now it is 3 hours since I witnessed my mind suggest I have biscotti with my coffee. I am extremely hungry, I feel very fulfilled sharing all this on paper. I hope it has been helpful. I wonder what is in the kitchen that will fill me with energy and vitality to continue to tackle my day. And I wonder how I am going to weave adventure and a sense of the exotic into my daily routine…. That is worth pondering.