Last time I was in New York City, I had an experience that taught me about finding inner peace, no matter where I may be. I had traveled to the city center to go to—of all things—a meditation retreat. After a beautiful few days of practicing inner stillness and presence, I vividly remember the midday in July that I stepped out of the cocoon-like intimacy I had just experienced, back into the bustling city. Rather than concrete and steel, the cityscape looked luminous, as though everything was made of light. As I looked up at Manhattan’s textured skyline, it seemed to shimmer. The world looked vibrant and alive, and at the same time, not at all real. As I paused to breathe it all in, I sensed I might be glimpsing through what the ancient yogic sages referred to as maya, the veil-like illusion of life from which we must all awaken to fully realize our divine Self. It was not that it looked two-dimensional. Instead, it seemed to be a fully formed space in which we live, through which our lives unfold–but that is temporary and without lasting substance.
The A-Ha Moment
As I walked into this effervescent field of light, I could feel that though I am living in my body, I am not of the body. I understood that even as life takes place in the temporary field of aliveness I was seeing, I am not of it. Resting into this new reality, I became even more fully present. I felt profoundly alive and connected.
Maybe you can relate to what happened next. I think we all have times when moments of openness are soon followed by an inner voice saying, “Wait! Can this be true?”
A pedestrian walked by, and I became self-conscious. I wondered if perhaps I stood out too much in flowing white clothes, carrying a rose, beaming a blissful smile from ear to ear. With this thought, the crystalline inner clarity began to dissipate, and the radiant transparency I saw before me thickened.
“Losing” the A-Ha
It may be tempting to think there is something “wrong” with you when an expansive experience seems to dissipate. But I’ve come to realize that it’s actually just the voice of ego, threatened by interconnection, taking you away from the love and peace you just touched. What if you were to choose patience and presence in those moments and not give in to self-judgment?
That is how I considered the potency of what I had just experienced—both the opening I had, and how quickly I was allowing it to close, just because of my thoughts. What occurred to me was that the light of consciousness is always present within all, if I open to it. I could remain peaceful, as long as I was willing to rest in the knowing of our inherent interconnection. With this, came tremendous power—the power to choose how I would perceive the moment before me.
Ask Yourself This
Each day brings with it a variety of stresses, challenges and joys. In the whirlwind of our lives, we may think we do not have a choice in how we experience what is right before us. But we do. We can close to it, or we can open. We may convince ourselves that peace is too hard to find because of our hectic lives. Yet, what if it was there all along, just waiting for us to tune in to it through the power of perception and our gift of choice?
Next week, as we continue to cultivate inner peace, let’s take a look at why we tend to close to the moment, and how we can welcome and be present for what is instead.
Until then, consider challenging your perceptions through the day, every day this week, by asking yourself the following questions:
• Is what I am seeing truly solid, fixed and unmoving?
• Can I see the moment differently?
• Could there be a light beyond what I see?
• Am I willing to open to it?
• Am I willing to embrace an expansive experience as it comes, without trying to cling to it or judge my state of being?
From my heart to yours,