A friend of mine took a yoga class the other day, the kind in which you stay in the poses for a really long time, and it was fascinating to hear of his experience. Bliss, relaxation, struggle, pain, comfort, resistance, release – all of it happened in a matter of minutes.
This is the value of staying – even when it’s hard. You get to actually experience reality. You get to be with what’s going on. And you get to recognize that simply being aware is the gateway to the deepest peace.
Are You a Runner?
Our modern society teaches us to run. We are masters at avoiding, distracting, and resisting. We think that if we keep moving forward, to the world out there and away from ourselves, that we will find the peace and happiness that we long for.
This tendency feeds all kinds of problems – addictions, habits, frustration, alienation, bitterness, envy, personal inadequacy. You live in need rather than fullness, lack rather than peace and contentment.
It’s an endless cycle of suffering and heartache, that maybe you are caught in. Have you ever gotten the object or job or relationship you were craving? How long did your happiness last before you weren’t so satisfied anymore?
The radical choice for all of life’s ills is to stay. Really, it’s the only sane solution. Continuing to avoid yourself and seek something other than what is here right now keeps you completely stuck. Mired in wanting. Consumed by dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment. Disconnected from yourself and from love.
Are you happy and content? Then you are happy and content in the present. You aren’t locked into desire or distraction. You aren’t disturbed by negative thoughts about yourself or the past or future. You are simply here, enjoying the moment.
How to Stay
The instructions for staying are so simple: don’t do anything and simply be.
- Recognize that you are aware, and center your attention in awareness.
- Get familiar with this space of non-doing. It is open, peaceful, boundless, alive.
- Anything can arise in it, and you stay as awareness.
It’s really that simple. Rest in non-doing for a few minutes to start, and right away your whole perspective will shift. Then spend as many moments as you like in this quiet space. Don’t make it a chore. Do it for enjoyment and freedom, for ease and well being.
As you stay as awareness, you will notice thoughts or feelings or the tendency to move into familiar habits. Instead of starting to rev up and do again, simply stay with being. This is exactly what my friend did in his yoga class. No matter what arose, he stayed and let everything be.
It might seem unnatural at first to stay, but eventually you realize that it is relaxing, effortless, and natural. Your attention rests in being, and from here, nothing that arises is a problem.
If playing out conditioned habits isn’t working for you and you are looking for a peaceful state that you think is not present now, experiment with staying. Here is what you might experience:
- The force to carry out habits and patterns weakens. You realize you can stay and let the momentum to do run itself down rather than acting on habits that aren’t serving you anyway.
- You are flexible and open. Running on automatic keeps you caught in one way of being. Staying offers options, insights, and clarity you haven’t had the space to see.
- Presence shows you the truth about your experience. You see thoughts as simply mental chatter, feelings as stories and physical sensations that don’t have any essential meaning. As aware presence, you are alive, functioning well, and totally okay.
Staying creates the possibility for you to tap into being. Without the distraction of mind-made pressures, your idea of yourself as a separate person with needs and desires to fulfill falls away.
Miraculously, you realize you are one with the totality of being and intimate with all things – right now. You are endlessly peaceful, completely content, seeing and being love with no separation. This is the possibility for you.
Staying starts a revolution. Are you in?
What makes it hard to stay? What is your experience with staying? I’d love to hear…