Shalom Place Community
F. Awareness

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02 November 2002, 03:46 PM
F. Awareness
Click here for the lesson on Awareness.


Reflection and Discussion

1. Share some of your experiences of living in the present moment . . . or trying to do so.

2. What makes it difficult for you to live in the present moment?

3. What helps you to live more fully in awareness?
25 November 2002, 09:40 PM
1. Share some of your experiences of living in the present moment . . . or trying to do so.

I do think that living in the "now" comes more naturally to some people than to others. It really just isn't my nature to look too far ahead, mostly because just getting through today is challenging enough for me!! A comment that I might make to somebody would be, "I just can't look that far ahead." (I really CAN'T). So for me, it's not like I ever made a conscious effort to be in the present. It was just my style of living.

I didn't always think that this was a good thing. I used to think that those people who had all their Christmas shopping done in August were somehow "better" than me, but I would simply shrug them off, because it just wasn't my nature to be that "well organized." Smiler But now I see that doing what you're supposed to be doing WHEN you are supposed to be doing it just might be a GOOD thing. Of course, some people might think that you are supposed to do Christmas shopping in the summer time, but I'm not one of them.

There is actually a teacher at my school who gets things ready for the NEXT SCHOOL YEAR during the school year before. Eeker This is something that is really beyond my comprehension, because, again, there is SOOO much to do at the end of one school year, that I couldn't POSSIBLY think about the next one.

My teacher's aide sometimes gets a little frustrated with me, because I don't keep her informed on what's coming up. That's because I'm not thinking about what's coming up.....I'm too busy doing what I'm doing. But...she can't be expected to read my mind and have things ready for later when I don't even tell her what the agenda is for "later" and so I have to work at this. Since "looking ahead" ahead doesn't come naturally to me then neither does "planning ahead". This frustrates some people in my life, so I have to compromise and work at the planning a little harder.

2. What makes it difficult for you to live in the present moment?

Raising children. Because we are supposed to do all of these things NOW in order to raise healthy well adjusted human beings for the FUTURE. So, I worry about my kid's FUTURE (will he/she turn out OK???) And I obsess about the past (did I do it right? COULD I have done it differently? SHOULD I have done it differently? COULD I have done it better???)

It all makes me CRAZY!!

Then I manage to bring myself back to NOW. They are both OK right NOW and that is really all that matters, isn't it? Wink
26 November 2002, 10:46 AM
Anne, I think part of what you've put your finger on is how temperament affects the kinds of things people are naturally attuned to. Sensate types (a la Jung's typology) are more naturally attuned to the here and now while intuitive types are future-oriented.

The practice of awareness embraces both types, however. One can be future oriented and live in awareness, while another can be sensate-oriented and have little awareness. Doing today what must be done today might entail some kind of preparation for a future event, or some kind of remembrance of a past one, and I'm sure again that personality types and one's upbringing have something to do with what we think "must be done today."

Awareness has more to do with being present to what one is doing than "what" one is doing and what its temporal orientation is. It took me awhile to learn this point, and I think your post helps to clarify this. Being an intuitive type, I am naturally more attentive to the future or to possibilities than to the sensate information presenting itself in the present moment, and so when I first came upon the teachings about awareness, I thought I'd never get very far with it because I'm so very un-sensate. Through further reading and study of this discipline, however, I came to see that its true spirit is a quality of presence to whatever it is one is doing. It means not letting the mind run away with the self, identity, and will through the momentum of activity, but, instead, of holding the mind and will within the "heart" or the core of one's self, from whence one can gently and lovingly observe one's life and activity and check compulsive movements before they get started. So, then, there's no problem with considering the future needs of one's children and how this informs what one must do now to help to meet them. It's the worry part, as you noted, that's the enemy of awareness. But even here, we can bring this anxiety into the practice of awareness by noting its presence, acknowledging it, examining it to understand its roots, and turning the issue over to the care of God. Anxiety only runs away with us when we avoid this kind of practice and begin to make decisions in deference to its sick logic.

Does this help to clarify the practice of awareness a little more? Let's continue to share how we experience this practice and the difference it makes in our lives.
29 November 2002, 08:45 PM
1. Share some of your experiences of living in the present moment . . . or trying to do so.

For me, a lot of times "living in the present moment" is something I'm doing that I'm not really aware that I'm doing until my mind stops for a minute and recognizes it. Does that make sense at all? Many times when it's the springtime of the year and we're looking over certain things we have to do cropwise, it's as though I'm sensing the air, the dirt, the breeze, the GREEN! in the fields and I'm just totally exhilarated. Lots of times I'm in a mode of praise at the same time because I feel life all around me and within me. In the winter time, it's more in dealing with the cattle...that might sound crazy, but there's just something about feeding them and feeling their warm breath on my hands and seeing their anticipation at the hay or grain we're bringing them. I smile alllll the time and feel such joy in those moments. It's like I'm alive right this second and then the next second, I'm alive right that second. Hmmm not sure I'm describing that too well...but hopefully you get the idea. Sometimes I have those moments when I am having conversations with my suddenly overtakes me that this is a special moment in time that I will never live again and it's so enriching.

2. What makes it difficult for you to live in the present moment?

The answer to that is probably what's common with most folks. The practical knowledge that I have this to do or that to do. Or things that are weighing on my mind for whatever particular reason. For a few years I went through episodes of waking up in the middle of the night in a panic and I could not sleep until I mentally went through a checklist of everything I'd done that day and made sure I'd accomplished all I was supposed to and then going over what I had to do the next day, getting it all sorted out in my head. Once I did that, I could relax. Thankfully, those times have passed.

3. What helps you to live more fully in awareness?

I think probably what helps me most is knowing that God is here with me. It sort of makes me view each moment as a gift He's given me. Sometimes I have to stop and think about that before I can let go of stress factors. It also helps me when I think of the beauty of life rather than the difficulties of life. Sometimes the "busyness" of my days distracts me, but usually (fortunately for me) I do have the option of slowing down and breathing. Taking deep breaths and relaxing have benefited me for most all of my adult life, I guess.

I'm not sure if this is exactly what you mean..but it's what I came away with for now.

02 December 2002, 09:25 AM
Terri, that kind of sharing is very much "right on." Actually, almost anything anyone wants to share about awareness can go on this thread, whether it references the numbered questions or not. Those are provided just to help stimulate reflection and discussion, but we need not limit ourselves to their focus.

You wrote: I think probably what helps me most is knowing that God is here with me. It sort of makes me view each moment as a gift He's given me. Sometimes I have to stop and think about that before I can let go of stress factors.

What I like about that is how well it shows the connection between teaching and practice. There's the intellect accessing the theological affirmations of our religious tradition and informing the kind of action taken by the will in behalf of some kind of response--in this case, letting go of stress factors and gratitude.

Thanks for sharing this! Smiler
04 December 2002, 06:26 PM
1. Share some of your experiences of living in the present moment . . . or trying to do so.

I think that Terri is on the in the present moment is almost beyond words.

Experiencing a painting by Van Gogh, not a reproduction, but actually being in front of one of his paintings. Somehow I "saw" it with my heart.

Caught up in the process of drawing, not being aware of where the drawing ended and I began.

Hearing, really hearing another person.

2. What makes it difficult for you to live in the present moment?

Carrying baggage.

(Heavy sigh!)

Bag number 1: Thinking what I should be doing right now that I am not doing.

Bag number 2: The guilt associated with not dealing with Bag number 1.

Bag number 3: Not doing the guilt "right"...too much guilt, not enough guilt, glorying in the guilt, blaming someone else for the guilt, guilt withdrawal

Bag number 4: (Go to bag Number 1)

3. What helps you to live more fully in awareness?

Focusing outside of myself.

Laughter and tears.

Bread and Wine.

A walk in the sunshine.

A walk in the rain.

Moving away from the keyboard.

09 December 2002, 10:49 PM
1. Share some experiences of living in the present moment..

At different moments of my day or night, whether I am listening to a patient, looking at the sky, peeling potatoes, in prayer or unable to sleep in the middle of the night, an awareness just comes to me that this is now. There is an awareness of a life within me and all around me and it is very good. If I am listening to a patient, I see the life of that person beyond the physical body present there.If looking at the blue sky, I am silenced by the experience of the life in that blue sky.In the middle of this life I am peaceful, calm and refreshed. I believe this is what Ps 23 says, "In green pastures you let me graze, you restore my strength."

Fear makes it difficult for me to live in the present moment though I have improved quite a bit, I believe. I was born as WW 11 was just ending in a country badly ravaged by that war. I grew up in a generation that was fearful of the future, always trying to prepare for the worst. I needed to be in control to prevent other disasters. It has taken me a long time to be able to "let go" of all the "disasters" in my life and let God be in control of it all. Much struggle specially in the area of TRUST and believe that God truly loves me. I have learned that I have to focus less on what I do for the Lord and focus more on what the Lord does for me. When I focus on what I do for the Lord, then I encounter failure, frustration, fatigue. But when I focus on what God has done and continues to do for me every second of my life, then I find joy, love, hope. This is great motivation for me to be in the present moment and to let God. In the midst of confusion, I just have to take a deep breath (or several)and say "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." Then I can go on.
27 June 2013, 07:39 PM
Here's a talk I recorded recently on the subject of awareness in the Christian tradition:
30 June 2013, 09:17 AM
I enjoy your talks and videos, Derek. More please!

30 June 2013, 01:39 PM
Thank you! Unfortunately it takes me many months to compose my thoughts into a ten-minute talk, so there will always be gaps beteen new ones. The only composition you probably haven't heard so far is a musical one, the second one down on this page:
01 July 2013, 02:05 PM
Thanks for posting these links, Derek. You have a really nice singing voice, and I think "Grace and Peace to You" could be well-used in the liturgy.

The presentation on Awareness was also very interesting and well-done. What you are describing is what I mean by Self -- the inner observer or witness of the contents of our consciousness. We have discussed this many times, so I am just making that connection.

I am finished with the re-write of part I of "God, Self and Ego," which will be re-titled God and "I": Notes on the meaning of the terms God, Self, Ego, and False Self, or something like that. Wink Part II of the book will explore the implications for spirituality, including some reflections on non-duality. Readers of this board won't find anything particularly new, here, as I've already shared much about these topics through the years.