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Jesica Hanley Vega

Sing Your Song

Month

March 2014

Being Here Now

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“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”  –Thomas Merton

Meeting the present moment can be one of life’s most difficult challenges.

Why else would we spend so much time dreaming of and planning for the future? Why else would we spend so much time dwelling on the past?

It takes faith to believe that there is power in being present. And it takes faith to let go of trying to control the outcomes of our lives.

But the truth is – try as we may to plan for better futures – we don’t really know what is happening or where it is all going. Science tries as hard as religion to give us a sense of certainty and assurance. But in truth, life – even at its best – will always retain a large degree of mystery.

What happened to an airplane over the Indian Ocean? What made a mountainside fall? Why did four of my family members pass away in quick succession?

Will I ever find out? And can I live without knowing?

The more I practice my craft, the more I learn that our greatest wisdom lies inside ourselves. But when we drown out our inner voices with temporary distractions and quick fixes, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to learn what matters to us most.

We may think we want to know what happened to that plane – but would we rather know how to cope with uncertainty? We may think we want to know about a landslide in Washington – but would we rather know how to grieve for lives lost?

More often than not, our inner wisdom doesn’t give us the answers to questions we think we have, but instead addresses the questions we really have: How to love. How to live. How to be fulfilled.

And those are the answers that will change not only our lives, but our world.

 

Mindfulness – What It’s All About

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When we are mindful of our surroundings, we have the opportunity to experience the beauty that is all around us. All the time.

For a long time, I’ve used the term with clients and in writing.  I’ve said that, when it comes down to it , whatever “it” is -happiness, joy, success, or peace – mindfulness is what it’s all about.

But what is mindfulness? Is it just a secularized and trendy term for meditation? Is it something you have to take a class to study? Is there a right way to practice it? Is there a wrong way?

I came to living a mindful life through many avenues. I began meditating in 1990 and, not long after, tried Hindu Devotional Singing and yoga. All these practices – grounded though they were in Eastern traditions that were foreign to me – gave me  feelings of peace, joy and a true self that I couldn’t find any other way.

But as I became more experienced, I discovered that mindfulness can be experienced while doing anything with the proper attention: knitting, dancing, listening to music, making love.

Mindfulness implies focus, thoughtfulness and introspection. It moves slowly – not at the speed of light – and sometimes it doesn’t move at all. Though the mindful individual is only doing one thing (or seemingly no-thing) at a time, the results may be more productive than those of a devoted multi-tasker.

Mindfulness is not inherently religious or spiritual, but frequently leads to experiences of awe and unity that are common to both.

Mindfulness is no more the property of ancient tradition than breathing or eating, but somewhere along the line, in our modern world, the values it imparts had been dismissed and fallen out of favor .

My dedication to a mindful life has often made me feel out of step, though apparently – according to TIME magazine and Arianna Huffington and almost everywhere else you look these days – it’s back in vogue.

A New Season (Almost)

IMG_2115This winter season has been dramatic – full of more emotion (and, of course, bad weather) than I would have ever thought possible. While in the midst of reconsidering my work and my path, my family and I witnessed the passing of several family members (and a hamster), both at home and across the country.

Nevertheless, more than at any other time in my life, I have consistently been able to connect with that still, quiet place within me.  There are as many names for this place as there are spiritual traditions – or perhaps people – on this planet. Whether you call it God, Jesus, Spirit, Source or the tao, when you have made a habit of being with it, it can provide an ever present sense of sanctuary and a state of peace that is rarely more than a few deep breaths away.

For this, I have my joyous, and disciplined, spiritual practices to thank. It would have been no use learning to meditate in the midst of 911 calls and hospital visits. But the previous years of training proved their value when life seemed to  fall apart again and again around me and those I loved.

There’s no better time to attend to your spirit than now. Especially if now is the moment when all hell is not breaking loose. It takes work and time to build that relationship, and some things are best not left to the last minute, especially when there may be too much else going on.

 

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