Richard Moss

The quality of your experience in each moment is dynamic. The more balanced you are in being focused and spacious, ready and relaxed, the more fully alive and present you are. Little disturbances don’t become big ones. Little fears don’t become the center of your world. This is the great power of awareness: whatever you may focus on or are simply drawn toward (be it an idea, or feelings such as sorrow, fear, or love), there is always a larger space in which those specific thoughts or feelings are experienced. In this sense, who you really are as an aware being is always more than whatever you are aware of; you are always more than your stories.

Certain feelings and thoughts can seem overwhelming when you focus specifically on them. Your ego will immediately identify with them and create stories that intensify the feeling and imprison you in a narrow reality. But if you move your attention into the present and remain expansive, the feeling will not be as overwhelming; in fact, it will often transmute into presence and aliveness.

It is enlightening to realize that you can learn to consciously direct your attention in any way you choose and thereby train your mind to be both focused and spacious. As you do so, you will realize that the ego—what you mean when you think me—does not actually exist. Me itself is only a thought, a story, a very old habit of self-identification—not an actual thing. The moment you return to the Now, there is only awareness (awareness of sensations, feelings, thoughts, presence, being), not a separate me or ego. Who you really are cannot be isolated and defined; it can only be spoken about symbolically using words like self.

As with any spiritual or artistic discipline, presence is a learned skill. Sitting down to meditate or to write poetry doesn’t necessarily mean that your mind will immediately become still, or that the words will flow effortlessly. With any conscious, intentional effort, there is repeated practice and also an element of mystery or grace in how you suddenly settle into a more connected, integrated state of being.

None of us will ever control this grace, but it’s possible to cultivate it. It is about a choice to consciously step away from your thinking mind and bring your awareness fully into your body and into the present. It is about consciously taking charge of the quality of your attention and practicing focused spaciousness. It is about consciously bringing yourself into deep relaxation while becoming as fully alert as possible. It is inviting the timeless present to open to whatever depth it will allow to you each time you make the effort.

In navigating through life, the Now becomes your starting point over and over again. This can also be seen as analogous to the way the first violinist sounds a note to which the rest of an orchestra tunes itself: the Now becomes the note that you attune to and against, as you can feel the contrast of how out of tune you become when you are identified with your stories.

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