“To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower, hold Infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” ~William Blake
How often do we just wake up and hit the ground running, and forget the wistful dreams of the night before? How often do we just go through life bored and disgruntled in the aisles of a department store? How often do we take experiences for granted, journeying jaded through mundane moments like traveling in an airplane?
I hate flying—the sickness in my stomach, the cramped seats, the stifling contained air, not to mention long layovers and even longer security checks. In this day and age when traveling is routine rather than pleasure, everyone seems to have become been-there-done-that travelers, immune to the experience of flying like a bird in the sky.
On one such mundane return trip, I picked a window seat right above the right wing of the plane. My view, while we were getting ready to take off was of the four-blade propeller slowly whipping itself up into a whir like that of a hummingbird’s wings.
We cruised to the head of the runway and paused, almost like a kingfisher on a branch, taking a breath before swooping down for a silvery fish. That pause jolted me into the present, readying me for a sacred moment.
And then it happened—the wheels lifted off the ground, the great plane rose up gently, making its way up, up, up in the air, slowly withdrawing its legs and wheels and folding them away for later.
I felt like I was flying on the wings of an albatross, watching its steely legs lifting off, its haunches folding, tucking its legs and feet in neatly, its body prepared for flight.
As the nose of the plane parted its way through thick, fleecy clouds, it seemed like the albatross was blinking its eyes against the blinding winds, firmly determined to make its way through the cloud cover until it could see the burst of sunshine that exploded in brilliance.
I blinked back my own surprise tears when I realized some fell on my forearm, which brought me back to the earthly plane again, of the buzz of people’s voices, the pings of the seat-belt-off signs, and the rattle of the stewardess’s bar cart down the aisle.
I’ve had a few such moments of awe, that make time stand still, my heart stop beating, and my eyes well up with tears. They come like grace unasked. They don’t last long, but when they come I feel like I’m in the palm of the universe, if only for a few minutes.
Mystical moments are not just for Merlins on the mountains. Every day we can experience such grandeur, when we connect with the universe so completely that we lose any sense of identity of our own individual selves. We become pure consciousness.
When we can dwell in this state of being longer and longer, we naturally become mindful of aha moments, mini-moments of awakening, and make a path to presence.
Even though we can’t create such experiences, we can prepare for them, to make ourselves available for such exquisite sacredness in everyday moments. The more we practice, the more we allow such profound occurrences.
Here are ten practices that have worked for me:
Our minds are always working overtime to judge anything that happens around us—an event, a person, a remark, pros and cons. Instead, try to go with the flow without judging. Simply play, without putting a price on it. It helps us take in life as it comes to us, and works wonders on making our lives so much easier to live!
Nothing resets our perspective like watching the stars at night, or the moon rise, or walking along a wide expanse of water. Create such moments for yourself. Make a date with the sunrise. Some of the best shows in town are courtesy of Mother Nature.
The busier we get, the more important it is for us to find time to do nothing, and just be. Slowly learn to build pockets of nothing into your everyday, when you can shut off everything and simply walk away from what you’re doing, for a few minutes, or for a day, or for a few days.
Pauses in your doing will invite more “being” into your life, which will allow you to align with the center of your self—your Being.
Or music, or dance, or whatever else you find beauty in. Art, when we’re immersed in it, is prayer. There’s a reason why all mystical traditions explore some kind of art to induce ecstasy. Write, sing, dance!
Following our joys is an easy path to creating more such joys in our life. We can get lost in reading, or walking in the woods, or racecar driving. Relentlessly pursue joy.
6. Pen and Paper
Something happens in the act of writing with a pen on a paper, if we take the time to journal about our everyday experiences. The moments seem to come alive with their messages when we take the time to examine them, wonder about them, and write them down. Writing gives voice to what the experience is trying to tell us.
Our soul speaks in pictures and symbols. Some of our most mystical messages may come through our dreams because that’s when we’re relaxed enough to let them in. Keep a pen and a pad next to bed. You may be surprised how many dreams you’ll remember once you start writing them down.
Noticing patterns is fun. We can get lost for hours in fractals, mandalas, and puzzles if we allow it. Synchronicities are also patterns—they’re patterns of coincidence. Notice them, treasure them, because they are guiding signs that we’re in connection with the universe.
Ok, I cheated -Pathy is not a real word, but I wanted to keep the flow going with the P-words! Empathy and sympathy can create real connection with another person if we allow it. In Thoreau’s words, there is no greater miracle than to look through each other’s eyes for an instant.
Whenever you have an opportunity for a real connection, acknowledge it, use it. Don’t avoid it and go back to your phones and screens.
And last, but not least: ponder, wonder, meditate, contemplate. Meditation is like stepping away from your mind. It’s not important how long you meditate, but how often.
When you merge into meditation is when you allow for mystical experiences to come through. Plus (and it’s a big plus), the practice of meditation helps create true inner peace. That alone is reason enough!
These are my ten paths to presence—the secrets to seeing the world in a grain of sand, heaven in a wild flower, and eternity in a single hour. I’d love to hear about your favorite practices to find presence in your daily life.
Meditation image via Shutterstock