Once again, I’m moved to write something about world events. The tragedies happening around the world such as in London last night, like a cry of pain and rage utterly desperate to be heard. There are many people writing much more skilfully than I can about the political causes and ramifications, so I won’t go there even though I have strong opinions about it.
What I can speak of is the power of our personal presence. Don’t we have a contribution to make this way as well as with our actions? I count myself lucky to live in a democracy (deeply flawed and undermined though it is), and always vote, but what we do with our attention from moment to moment is surely even stronger.
The body-parts practice is so potent for this, because it sharpens key aspects of your ability to be present in a choice-ful way:
- Practise moving your attention from one specific part of yourself to another. Builds ability to choose where your attention goes.
- Practise blending that physically focussed meditation together with the kind of open field of awareness required to notice the subtle presence found inside your breath. Strengthens ability to keep your awareness wide and open inside even whilst focussing on a task or an event.
- Practise leading with one part of your body while the rest follows. Learn how to be a good leader, listener, and team player all at the same time, becoming more ‘whole’ within yourself all the while.
These are all deep meta-skills, with benefits that spill out way beyond the dance floor.
So you get the news of another appalling act of violence. Then how much detail do you really need to pay attention to?
What if you turned away from the horror, and gave attention to your own body and breath? Giving attention to your body you’ll find the whole gamut of feelings — the fear, the hope, the numbness, the tenderness and love of life.
If you only stay with your body, all that stuff is overwhelming. So balance the fullness of your body with the emptiness of your breath. The nothingness inside your breath perfectly compliments the everythingness of your body.
For there is indeed a war going on, only it isn’t a war on terror (how ridiculous!) but war for attention, which is a war for energy: Energy flows where attention goes. The most basic power you have is where to put your attention, which is the simplest and most essential act of loving. So this ‘war’ is really a global scale spiritual struggle, and you’re involved whether you like it or not. What are you giving your love to?
Does your attention still feel like love, or has it corrupted to something resembling a puppet, bound by endless convolutions of fear, greed and addiction?
The monstrous world-machine we’ve created writhes and warps in its death throes, more and more fiercely devouring our energy. It behaves like an entity in its own right, using every trick in the book from airbrushed bikini-clad models to detailed coverage of bloody tragedies, all designed to catch our eye, and if we look for too long we’re hooked, mesmerised by the combo of suppressed panic, disconnected sex, and soulless death, just as so many people are hooked on food full of salt sugar and fat.
Take a glance, for sure, so you can keep track of what it’s up to, but don’t look too long or it will suck you in.
The ten thousand years of Staccato are over, and the patriarchal world it spawned is collapsing just as surely as the forward thrust of any breaking wave must fall towards earth again in a mighty crash. Chaos always comes. We have a choice: we can lament the fall, or we can get with the new program, staying present with what is here and now, and learning to see the beauty in what’s emerging even as the wreckage intensifies.
We can always choose to become aware of the physical presence of the body, and the non-physical presence within the breath. The essence of Chaos reveals itself in that choice to be centred and present, where we surrender to its slip-stream and find that life is magic.
Then we can look up and see what’s in front of our very eyes, and give something to the moment that is unfolding before us. Whether that be a lilt in your step, a smile at the sky, a kiss to a loved one or a word of kindness to a stranger. Life is beautiful almost all the time on the small scale, right where we are. If we’re in a war for attention, then it’s a political action to notice the flowers and be glad. It’s an effective move to be gracious in a crowd and give way. It’s a major step when we manage to love generously in the face of our own internal triggers.
Ancient middle eastern proverb: Trust in God, but always tie up your camel.
21st century equivalent: Trust in Silence, cast your votes, and remember to dance.