I’ve always been a thrill-seeker. I have skied some of the steepest slopes on the planet, climbed granite walls hundreds of feet above the ground and paddled a kayak off waterfalls. But my greatest thrill these days takes place while I sit quietly in a chair.
When I let go of mind’s grip on the past and future and come into the present moment, I experience a heart pounding, joyful, radiant piercing of the unknown.
When I am in the moment, doing whatever I’m called upon to do, I am surrendered completely to the Divine. I have stopped calculating, manipulating, hiding, running. I am bare. I am the moth burning up in the flame of life. In that burning, I trust the Divine to shape my next moment, next hour, week, year, incarnation. The trust is complete.
In this place, my body relaxes, my breath deepens and a lightness comes to my heart. Most of all, my head stops munching on thoughts and becomes airy, easy and ready for the next moment and whatever great challenge it may bring.
This is the birthplace of a creative life.
Here is how I do it.
Be Awake for the Holes
Stay with the Flow
Ready My Throw Rope
1. Be Awake for the Holes One of the reasons I enjoy extreme sports is because they bring me completely into the now. All problems resolve from this place. The mind thinks it must hash over things, learn, figure out, calculate, try, but really it is what the mystics call bhakti—love of the Divine power flow—that resolves all heartache, conflict, resentment and scorn.
How can this be?
When I kayak, I create my next moment by paddling this one well. If I’m headed toward a hole—a roiling mass of whitewater—and see it, I can paddle around it. My mind doesn’t think back to all the holes that have pummeled me in the past (hundreds) or forward to all those yet to knock me off balance. Instead, I see the threat and negotiate it.
Trusting the Divine, which is really my highest self, is critical to this, because it allows me to rely on something greater than my own mind. It helps me relax in the knowledge that whatever happens—success or failure—I am safe, eternal and loved.
The bhakti develops through a daily spiritual exercise.
2. Stay With the Flow As my kayaking has improved, my concentration has also developed. It takes prolonged focus to run an extended class IV rapid. You may get knocked over, have to roll up and then face miles more of waves, rocks and holes.
Holding the focus during my day has the same level of thrill. When I lose it, the outer world tells me so—I cut myself while cooking, argue with a loved one or simply feel impatient. To stay focused, I chant a mantra. If this sounds too mystical, consider what mantras your mind is usually chanting: fiery expletives at bad drivers, daggers toward yourself or tales of lost love.
My spiritual teacher Sri Gary Olsen gave me my mantra. Whenever I feel uneasy in my day, I immediately chant my word silently until my focus returns. This is especially useful when a tricky person or situation arises. In fact, I always chant silently when I answer the phone or attend a meeting.
3. Ready My Throw Rope When I’m willing to give, I automatically come into the present moment. Kayaking taught me a lot about this, because the sport is so dangerous, we “yakers” rely on each other. On the river I learned to stay awake to my own course, and also to pay attention to where my buddies are and be ready to give. This might be a simple task such as helping a friend attach her spray skirt to her boat or a life-saving one such as throwing a rope to pull her out of a hole.
Daily giving is the same. It involves a constant focus on what can be done to bring the Divine into the moment. During the hairiest times, the mind wants to get. But really we need nothing. We are pure consciousness, all wealth, safety and love, so our only job is to give those things. When I come into the now, I can give fully to whomever, whatever is before me. By doing this, I channel the Divine current into my creation and thereby transform it to fit my own vibration, which heightens every day.
This is the secret to creating a fulfilling life.
My kayaking ability increased exponentially when I started working with a Master in the sport, and the same happened when I started working with a spiritual Master. If you shy away from that idea, no problem. Nothing will stop your thrill-seeking soul from revealing itself in the present moment.
Paradoxically, the Now is the safest place of all.
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