On one of H.H. the Dalai Lama’s visits in the West someone asked him, “What was the best moment of your life?” The Dalia Lama thought for a moment before answering, “I think now.”
In the last few posts I presented different topics and various exercises. Here I’d just like to share some simple moments with you. Our life really does happen now in the present. But in our minds we often remain in the past or try to anticipate the future.
Only in this moment can we touch our life and each other directly. Here we can feel fully alive.
We can sense how the wind is touching our skin, how sun and water create different temperatures, how our body moves in space. Lying on a beach we can feel the warmth of the sand and jump into the cold sea at some point. Sitting on a bus we are moved by the roughness of the road and the flow of traffic, but nevertheless we can focus on the book in our hands or on chatting with other passengers. Picking a flower next to the trail we notice the coolness and moisture of the stem between our fingers.
Our eyes allow us to notice and enjoy colors, shapes, patterns, distances, and each other. They can express some of what’s moving us inside in that moment as well. They help us to find our orientation in the world around us and to see the changes of the different seasons. We can enjoy arts, read newspapers, play with kids, and watch the movements of light and shadow, warmth and coolness where we are.
Our ears allow us to understand each other. In the morning from bed we can listen to the day starting for the birds and in the evening we can enjoy how everything calms down outside. Musicians and composers have done their best to create pleasures for our ears and modern media allows for unified compositions of sight and sound. The specialty of our hearing sense is that we can’t close our ears. But instead we have some ability to ignore sounds we don’t want to notice, yet stay alert for important information coming through. This ability especially shows up in traffic and in loud places. On the other hand, a walk along a beautiful river might inspire us to listen up. We can enjoy the subtle gurgling of the water in its bed.
Another wonder is our ability to taste. In many places we can reach out and enjoy diverse foods and tastes nearly 24 hours a day. Delicious treats from other continents travel the oceans for a long time to our favorite grocery store. Many cities have restaurants from all over the world and even between meals we might have our favorite drinks and snacks. During our work hours and on trips we can make sure to have our favorite food handy.
Our nose is right here and open all day, too. Breathing in and out there is a lot to sense every moment. We can notice many different scents, even though compared to most animals we don’t see much with our noses. Still, deeply taking in fresh morning air is a wonderful experience not only because of the different scents. Air has a special pleasurable quality all its own that we can contact at any time. The evening air in the different seasons can surprise our nostrils with thrilling sensations and scents. We might be familiar with the extended pleasure of drinking freshly brewed coffee, yet our ability to notice and enjoy every stage of the process can play an important role in many other experiences, too.
Living daily with these wonders can lighten us up. Our thoughts may be heavy, but the senses are always quick and immediate, light. At the same time they allow for more presence and depth in our life. They not only give us pleasure, but provide a full picture of our world, warning us when necessary. We can smell if something is not right. With open eyes and ears we’ll see when we need to take action.
Unfortunately we only direct a small part of our awareness towards these biological wonders. Thoughts, feelings, plans, and working through the different commitments of our daily life occupy the largest part of our attention most of the time. It’s as if we take brief glances with our senses and then move immediately back into our thought world. In most moments we can notice a reduced presence to our senses, and only in special moments like during holiday trips or when falling in love, do these familiar abilities rise up in amazing intensities.
It’s up to us how often we allow ourselves to consciously experience and enjoy the different moments of our life. Since most of us don’t normally attend too closely to our senses, we might be inspired to know that what we’ve experienced so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Throughout time people have discovered many more sensations than the ones just related to our five senses. So there is a lot more to discover 🙂
I wish that you might have a week full of interesting moments and new discoveries!