My two-week struggle with a sinus infection came to an end. I was leading my group mindfulness class and we were doing a reflective exercise where we check in with ourselves and ask how we are doing. We wait for the word to arise that captures what is present. Initially I couldn't come up with anything until I realized that the words that arose surprised me in their simplicity. No wonder I couldn't find them. I was calm and peaceful. Nothing was wrong. I had no cough, no sciatic pain, nothing commanding my attention in busyness, necessity, or alarm. The following night my kids got home from school and the ease continued. My son got to his piano lesson; both my kids got their homework done early; I had no orders to bark out for the fifteenth time; I had plenty of time to make dinner after work; I even got the windows and screens cleaned. Still, I felt a low hum of anxiety in my being. I found myself repeatedly saying, "nothing is wrong Jean; you can simply enjoy this moment." Of course, that was my mind speaking, but my body was still braced and needed more time.
This is the irony of happiness. Oftentimes when we have it, we miss it or don't have permission to have it. We miss it because our nervous system is accustomed to that one mode, or we assume the other shoe will drop, or we are already onto what we want next, or we feel guilty for being at ease. This is big one for many busy people...I can't possibly take this easy moment! I mean really...not EVERYTHING is okay...I've got the HUGE problem of not knowing how I'll survive when I need to stop working, for instance. Shouldn't I concern myself with that if everything else is just fine for the moment? It's an equally humorous and sad thing we do, though I generally find it is better to laugh. "It's only ice cream, ma'am," as the young man working at the neighborhood ice cream shop said to a flustered customer the other week. It has been my mantra since. There are so many times I can say to myself..."it's only ice cream, Jean." I can kindly laugh at myself and feel my feet back on the ground and my thoughts back in some kind of perspective.
Putting major world and societal problems aside, truthfully, in most moments everything usually is okay. Even if I have matters to figure out, too much on my plate, logistics to maneuver, pain or loss surfacing, if I were to check in with the actual moment, I can usually say I am safe. I am okay for right now. And right now is what we have. So we keep practicing and reminding ourselves that all is well. That is enlightenment. Every moment we catch ourselves, we are enlightened. We don't need to sit for hours, wear a brown, red or yellow robe. We can just remember that it is only ice cream when it is only ice cream and enjoy the ice cream if we are actually eating it. We can set as our intention to enjoy each moment. All of that comes from our minds and when we follow our breath the intention moves into our body. We can reset ourselves as we would restart a computer and let our nervous system be refreshed with each inhale and exhale. Our tech support are those around us also practicing. They bolster our practice and inspire us to continue. If you don't have this support around you, find a group or reach out for help in locating one.
Take a moment, just a moment. Ask...right now, am I safe? Right now, are my essential needs met? Right now, can I see something beautiful...anything. Right now can I feel my inhale and exhale and follow along? If you can say yes, give yourself permission to close your eyes for two minutes and just breathe. Hear the sounds around you just as sounds and let yourself simply be. Nothing to figure out, to plan, fix or do. This moment is enough.