As a writer I’ve always loved the opportunity to focus on one thing at a time. I am most content when I can dive deeply, be undisturbed, and let my heart’s primal intelligence flow into the project at hand.
When I was made a supervisor some years ago (at Apple Computer) I had to manage multiple projects, go to a zillion meetings, and write books. I could barely stand the disruptions and distractions. The lesson? Find ways of working that preserved and protected my bubble of quiet.
When I became a freelance writer it was a great relief. I fiercely protected my solo business model: I didn’t want employees, didn’t want to expand, loved working at home.
My biggest weakness as a Mom was this desire for focus and silence (at least once in a while!)
I had to redefine “work” to include ways of moving into focus and quiet.
Sometimes it means closing my eyes at my desk and taking 3 big slow breaths.
Sometimes “work” includes pulling weeds and harvesting from the garden while thoughts rearrange and mind expands into the humming vibration of bees.
Often it means sitting outside and staring at the trees until my metabolism slows and birdsong enters my consciousness.
Always it means prioritizing exercise classes, where I know I'll I empty of everything but core, breath, and movement.
What does this have to do with you?
Juggling Ourselves Into Presence
Everybody has to juggle many demands, and it is worse with the joint pressures of social media and social conscience. We all have too much stuff to read, to do, to think about, and to protest.
My question is always: How do we meet these challenging and troubled times with fluidity and courage?
A conversation I’ve been having with someone in a Facebook group (The More Beautiful World) about the pleasures of juggling got me thinking. How could I perceive each figurative ball I’m juggling as something to enjoy?
Here’s what I noticed.
When I try to do four things at once—listen to a podcast and read email, check social media, and worry about writing my next newsletter—I feel distracted, unclear, unsatisfied.
Whenever I carve a few uninterrupted hours to do one thing, I get it done. I feel relieved. Then can move on to the next thing (juggling ball) with ease.
The difference is in my presence. I am wholly engrossed in the moment, fully attuned to and accepting of whatever I am doing.
As The Existential Buddhist writes,
“The moments of joy are usually “little” moments, and almost always moments of “contact,” whether contact with another person, contact with nature, or contact with a deeper part of ourselves. People report that the best moment of the week was watching their baby smile, or having their partner say something endearing, or being outside for a moment with nature, or experiencing a moment of still quiet inside themselves. If we let these moments go by, or even worse, if we do not allow time for them in our lives, we miss our lives.”
My biggest “lessons” about presence came from my multiple visits to Peru.
Quechua village women constantly spun wool while we interacted. They laughed, joked, and continued spinning.
They shrugged off the vagaries of life—hungry, sick children, no electricity or transport, crops and livestock afflicted by climate change—and kept spinning. Because you have to pay attention when you spin—a too-thin thread will break, potentially ruining a whole weaving and causing hours more work—it becomes a meditation. It keeps you present.
I wanted that presence, wanted to be aware and joyful each moment.
Those experiences fueled my inquiry, practice, and embodiment. They formed the perceptions and practices I share in Weave the Heart of the Universe into Your Life: Aligning with Cosmic Energy.
I’m using these insights about presence as step into my power as an author and shamanic guide. It's fun and exciting, but like all of life, fraught with multiple simultaneous demands and way more than I can ever accomplish. I hope these examples help you shift into presence.
I start by:
Consciously enjoying what I am doing.
Letting myself appreciate each accomplishment.
Surrendering to whatever arises each day.
In the moment, when I realize I’m out of balance, I try to:
Breathe myself back into presence.
Do five minutes of movement.
Forgive myself when I notice I am causing my own distraction (like looking at email rather than finishing this newsletter).
Breathe some more.
Like most of you, I’ve tried making schedules, having a daily list of action items, and setting aside certain times each day for creating relative order out of the chaos. Yet all of these plans get easily swept aside by new demands.
I try not to beat myself up about this. I remind myself to take one day at a time. I try to let go of the transitory frustrations that won't mean anything a year from now. Moment by moment, I try to return to presence.
May you find your own presence and peace as you juggle through your life!
Meg Beeler—Author, Shamanic Guide, and Spiritual Mentor—helps you heal your spirit and find your luminous presence through mentoring, training, healing, and community ceremony. A lifelong explorer of shamanic, animist, and meditative consciousness, Meg is the creator of Energy AlchemyTM, founder of Earth Caretakers, and athor of Weave the Heart of the Universe into Your Life: Aligning with Cosmic Energy. She works with clients worldwide and lives on Sonoma Mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.megbeeler.com