We hear or read about how to have a more meaningful life, one that is more satisfying, more fulfilling, more successful, happier or whatever. If we feel like we’re missing something that we have yet to achieve, what is it? We need to give it a name and if it’s merely a sense of restlessness and feeling uneasy, then go with that. The point is that we need to name it to deal with it, even if we need some help coming to terms.
There is much being said about living fully in the present or being fully present in a given moment. We might wonder what that means. Look at it this way. We can see the water, we can taste the water, we can feel it trickle down our throats. We can drink it, we can wade in it, we can take a shower, water our garden or make a cup of tea. There are so many ways we can experience water and then, one day, we immerse ourselves in it. Our whole body, mind and spirit, our entire self is in the water whether a bath, a swim, or a deeper dive and then we know what that feels like when we are fully engaged with the water – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
That same kind of experience is possible in numerous other ways as well and here are several illustrations wherein we can entertain thoughts and feelings of presence and connection.
To begin, consider a sunrise. Since that is in itself a beginning, the start of another new day, consider how we connect with a sunrise. We can sit and watch it quietly, absorbing it visually, marveling at the beauty and feeling enormous gratitude for the gift of another day.
We can stand, and rise with the sun and walk toward it or away from it basking in its warmth and the gift of life. We can read a poem, listen to or make music, or write about the experience to capture our feelings. Considering the sun as our source of life on this planet, how blessed we are in its presence and how we can, in turn, be present with the sun both in the rising and in the setting,
Think about a relationship with another person and how our time is spent together, what we enjoy or how each of us might be filling a need in the other. We can recognize and appreciate the nature of our relationship and our connection. That connection may be defined by a role we play, partner or spouse, parent or child, sibling, colleague, friend, employer or employee, Consider how we are aware of each other, what we say, what we share, what our points of connections are and how we might want to strengthen or improve or change those. This can be done only in the present, based on the past or in preparation for the future.
The fine and performing arts offer us opportunities to feel what the artist or performer is communicating. We see the painting or the sculpture or the building and with our eyes we see and appreciate the shape, the form, the colors, the texture. We hear a piece of music by a singer or an orchestra and we almost breathe in the sounds and feel in our bodies what we hear with our ears. We say that the art form “speaks” to us. It can speak to our minds, our hearts and our bodies. We connect with the work in that present moment although it may remain with us long afterwards.
We assign meaning to these life experiences we consider worthwhile. We value them by how we regard them and what position we give them in our lives. Some of us have a daily practice that nurtures us in the present; others less frequently and some hardly at all. Whatever we do, wherever we go, we can find meaning that gives us a deeper appreciation for being able to absorb the present experiences for all they’re worth. And for all their worth!