Yesterday was Vernal Equinox – the first day of spring here in the northern hemisphere (and autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere). I picked up my motorcycle from the Harley dealer where it had a winter’s nap and was outfitted with new saddlebags. I had a nice long ride in the 80+ degree Chicago weather. Came home and meditated for 30 minutes. In the evening, I gathered with a small group of women to have a welcoming party for spring.
Each of these seemingly disparate events were deep well-springs of joy. And though the events seem quite different (riding a motorcycle, meditating alone at home, meditating with a group and having a shared focus on spring) they had a common denominator:
Be Here Now!
I’ve written before about the spiritual lessons one can get from riding a motorcycle. And now – in my second season of riding, I’m still kind of amazed at that aspect – I had anticipated the physicality of being a biker and the FUN – but spirituality had not occurred to me. When riding a motorcycle I am 100% in the moment, fully present to my surroundings and to the flow of life. From a practical perspective, I am fond of living and should I wish to remain alive I need to be very alert. But also, motorcycling occurs outdoors – and any time I am out in nature I am automatically more fully present as my senses take in the sound of the birds, the smell of the spring air, the beauty of the blooming forsythia, the feel of the wind against my body.
Meditating alone looks very different. I lie on my couch (I know you are ‘supposed to’ sit, but I don’t), close my eyes, set an alarm on my phone for 30 minutes – and just BE. My thoughts wander and I note that. I can feel my body relax. I hear the sound of children in the schoolyard next door, or feel my cat leap up to be near me. Sometimes I see things with my inner eye – as one does when dreaming. I am fully present, fully in the moment.
At our coming-out party for spring, our spiritual teacher Anne led us on a guided meditation. Nine women, sitting in a circle, eyes closed, listening to Anne’s voice. I felt the chair under my body, heard the soft breath of Donna on my left (as well as Anne’s guidance), smelled the incense we burned earlier, and as Anne led us to ‘an inner temple’ and asked us to focus on what we saw I could envision a rather Hobbit-ish place. Fully present, in the moment.
The nice thing about these well-springs of joy is that they are 100% available to all people all the time. Yes, riding a bike or meditating are easy ways to get there, but the paths are multitude. Here are just a scant few of the ways that I have experienced being 100% present – some quite profound (once in a lifetime, perhaps) and some very quotidian (a fancy word I love that means daily):
- Being present when my young friend Michael (soon to be 7) was born
- Being with my mother in her dying days
- Riding my motorcycle
- Looking at the stars
- Hanging out with toddlers or small children
- Travelling – I remember a ride on a commuter train in the Netherlands, staring in awe at the Don Quixote-like windmills
- Sitting around a campfire with friends
- Walking with my friend Becky and her partner Annemarie through Becky’s entire dying process
- Riding rollercoasters
How about you? What brings YOU fully to the present moment? What gets you out of the ongoing story in your head and into RIGHT NOW? Is it cooking? Gardening? Your new sweetheart? Let us know!