Opening The Present And Receiving The Gift Of Your Life

Welcome to spring! It’s exciting to have nice weather. Its great to get outside and do dirty things to the lawn. Its a relief to be part of the world outside my brain for a change. To step out and play. To actually open up and be part of my own life. What the heck, its happening, anyway. Life goes on whether I pay attention to it or not. May as well jump in with both my new feet shoes.

Easy to say. But, sometimes its easier to stay in bed on these big open days. Depression feels extra bad on a beautiful day, when the rest of the world is living in a Nike ad. But, instead of beating myself up, I am committed to working with love and acceptance and giving myself the gift of life.

I’ve been thinking about Sakyong Mipham’s teachings on fear. How, in order to be fearless, we actually need fear. How we get into trouble, again and again, by trying to run from fear. I’ve been re-committing to the purpose of NOT abandoning myself simply because I get anxious. I’ve been thinking that every time I want to check out, I can retrain myself to instead check back in. Simply that. To stay with myself. My best friend. So, with the spring comes a new resolution: to stay and regain authority in my life. I want to lean in to how life feels and to learn to deepen the connection to myself.

And, yes, I’m a Buddhist. And no, I’m not talking about building the ego. I’m suggesting that when we choose to remain in our own space, grounded in the actuality of our present experience, we are boycotting ego states. Ego states are predicated on denying our present experience in favor of a favorite projected scenario. Ego states are exit strategies for when the edges become too sharp and we feel threatened. The irony is, by retreating into a dissociative state, we are far more vulnerable. We are cut off from what is going on and what is going in. And, like a country under martial law, our access to reality is seriously compromised; we hear only what we’ve been told many times before. This process actually erodes confidence.

Conversely, by staying present, we become more confident in our experience and actually reduce the need to retreat. We can actually lean in to the sense of being threatened. We can learn to train ourselves to look into the fear, as a way of working with our fear. Who is it that is threatened anyway? Is it our higher mind? Is it our sense of goodness and wholeness? Is it the mind that is generous and kind?

Probably not.

The mind that is threatened is the mind that is frightened. It is a part of ourselves that has experienced pain and great danger. Our habitual reaction is to rush beyond, ignore, distract or medicate past the fear. Yet, if this mind of fearfulness needs anything, it needs attention and love. But it needs real love. True love. Not the false solace of distraction. Not the momentary balm of self medicating. It doesn’t need more pizza, and it doesn’t need the rational lies of the strategizing mind. The fearful mind needs care and knowing kindness. It needs to be felt and seen. So, rather than run from fear, I want to look into the mind of fearfulness with the big sibling of loving kindness. I want to become my own big sister and throw my arms around myself in encouragement. And, instead of abandoning my fearful mind, I want to take it with me.

You see, when I’ve run beyond it, when I’ve abandoned the fearful child to hurry on about my adult work, I’ve often run straight into a mess. I’ve left the kid at the station and rushed to catch a downtown train only to find myself on the uptown express. And when you’re on the wrong train, every stop is the wrong stop.

That’s when we wake up and realize that the frightened kid is actually our protector. By slowing down to acknowledge fear, we actually synchronize with life. When we move with the fear, we move in real time, remaining with ourselves for the journey.

So, I’ve decided to remind myself daily to come back to my body, and my present experience. Every time I want to run and retreat into some story, I redirect the impulse and come back in order to be with the actual feelings happening now.


Stop the spinning. Stop grasping straws, running from perceived threats, making revenge movies starring you. Stop the endless relentless stories of self-defeat. Stop the sub-vocal rumblings of doubt and distrust. Stop whatever patterned reaction to fear robs us of living our life. Stop checking out.

And, drop in. Drop into the body. Drop in to the feelings, touch the heart, regain the balance and reconnect to the core. Drop down to our basic truth, our basic goodness.

Then, simply open to the present. See the gift of life as it is – scary at times – but the only life we have. Open simply and without expectation. Open and discover ourselves, slowly blooming.

Its our life. Ready or not.