Presence Is Joy, and Everything I Need Is Within Reach

The second day of the commitment to Ananda, and I’m amazed. I can’t believe that I’m learning so much, so quickly.

When I first woke up, I blessed my body, my day and my life and I did some Pranayama exercises (intentional breathing to move the prana, or life force, through my body). It was AMAZING. I felt like I was on some kind of drug. For twenty minutes I breathed up and down my spine and felt euphoria. I felt like I was divine and the breath felt like it was happening on its own.

I was able to stay present more of the time, and when I do get off into the past of the future - which happens more often than I care to admit - I was able to direct my attention back to the present moment. I found that focusing on the breath moving up and down my spine and noticing something in the environment is helpful. For some reason, there’s been a sensation in my belly that brings my attention to the present.

I’ve been going for walks every day with my daughter, and this is when I feel the most present. There are some beautiful hiking spots near my home, and the cold weather actually helps me to be where I am.

I did find myself scrolling through social media a little bit. My good friend‘s mother is dying and she was posting on Facebook to keep everyone updated. Even though I felt like I had a little bit of an excuse, a commitment is a commitment, and I didn’t gain a single thing by checking Facebook.

I have found that it is MUCH easier than I thought it would be to leave my phone at home while going out with the kids, or to leave it in the other room while I’m cooking or cleaning up the house. Somehow, the amount of time that I have gained has been incredible.

I meditated for a little over two hours, and I was distracte, and once again falling asleep. This is usually not a problem for me, so I’m not sure what’s happening. In spite of the fact that I felt totally unfocused, I found myself suddenly having a very clear and vivid vision of a beautiful baby snake coming out of it’s egg. Snakes are a rich symbol of spiritual growth and transcendence. Also, something occurred that I’ve never really felt during meditation before, that was very intense. I felt rushes of cold move up and down my body, like fever chills, over and over. At one point in the meditation, I surrendered myself to the divine, and I felt cold pour down onto me, almost like someone emptied a bucket of cold water over my head. It was slightly uncomfortable, because it was truly cold, but it was also glorious.

Several times throughout the day I found myself wanting to buy things. I saw a cute journal I really liked, and it was on sale. I found some decor for my new kitchen that I thought would be functional and pretty. I thought about some sneakers that I wanted to buy, because I don’t really love the ones that I have. Each time, I was able to remind myself that I have more than enough, and that the feeling of wanting will pass. The wanting did pass, very quickly, and I was so proud of myself and so happy and thankful that I didn’t buy the things that were tempting to me.

Instead, I gave. First to the fundraiser that my friend is having for her mother’s funeral costs. I gave much more than I would ordinarily give. I bought my mother an enormous bag of peanut M&M’s, because they are her favorite. At the end of the day, my daughter and I wend to the grocery store to buy dinner, and as I was pulling into the parking lot, I saw a homeless man with a sign. I was very excited that life was showing me exactly what to give. I did my shopping, and when we passed him on our way out, I handed him $20. He said “Thank you so much”, I said “Happy New Year!”. The remarkable thing to me, was that we made eye contact and I could feel him, as a human, as a soul. I wanted to grab his hand, and tell him that everything would be okay.

I had given to homeless people before, but it was always only spare change, and I always felt uncomfortable looking them in the eyes, for some reason. This was so different. Instead of feeling like I wanted to give him the money and get out of there as quickly as possible, wanted to know him, his story, how it came to be that he is homeless, where he’s staying and how I could be of true service to him. I felt myself reaching out to him as we drove away, and it broke my heart open a bit.

The “rules” or guidelines for a year of Ananda:

* I will be as present as possible, grateful and loving what arises. I will focus on serving whatever is in front of me joyfully.

* No social media scrolling! I will only post my content and answer comments and questions that are on my content.

* No intake of external informatio. No more podcasts, books, audiobooks, YouTube videos or information of any kind. 😳 I will turn inwards for answers, guidance and information.

* I will trust life COMPLETELY. No more struggle, striving, controlling, wanting or trying to make something happen. I will trust and know that whatever is in my life is perfect, and I don’t need to fix or change it.

* I will engage in as many spiritual practices as possible every day.

* I will focus on GIVING and SERVING.

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