Walking in early morning autumn streets I was struck by how most people coming towards me appeared to be totally entranced by the pavement or their 'phone, their mission of getting to work and presumably by other aspects of their existential conundrums, and by how few seemed aware of the shockingly blue expanse of sky above, or of the miracle of being alive.
Training yourself to notice the miracle is a discipline for sure – it generally doesn’t come without practice. Without the discipline of focus, the mind defaults to churning the negative, compounding the worry and anxiety and thus, at every turn, altogether wasting valuable opportunities to feel the exhilaration of being here, which is tantamount to wasting your life away.
For when you die and find yourself at the pearly gates – and may that not be for a long time yet - were Saint Roger, or whoever was on door duty at the time, to ask you how you’d spent much of your life and you answered that you’d spent much of it gazing at paving stones moving beneath your feet, or attached to one mobile device or another, while worrying over the mundane details of daily life, he’d probably call you a bit of a sillybilly.
So to avoid any such afterlife embarrassment, start retraining yourself immediately.
Step one is to look up, not down. It’s fine to contemplate paving stones coming towards you or passing by beneath you for a moment or two in order to humble your mind and ground your thoughts and energy but to stretch that to a full-time posture will depress you. So put your 'phone away, look up, see the sky above you, open up your peripheral vision and take in the view to the sides and be aware of what’s in front of you at eye level.
Step two is to listen behind you. This is an old Taoist trick for expanding awareness. By training your ears to concentrate on the soundscape behind you, you find all your senses coming alive with renewed sensitivity to the total 360 degree panorama of existence going on all around you.
Step three is to be mindful of your breathing. Once aware of the breath entering and leaving your body, allow it to fall into a slow, steady rhythm, your belly swelling with the inhalation and contracting to push the stale air out on exhalation. This has the effect of collecting all disparate aspects of mind into a single focused unit of awareness and when the mind is thus focused, it becomes instantly all-powerful.
Step four is to move from a single point immediately below your navel. This is an old Taoist martial arts trick, which has the effect of organising your movements so you flow like a controlled tidal wave through life.
Step five is to be willing to accept the presence of an underlying intelligent pattern informing all aspects of existence, both within and around you and to smile internally about it from deep down in your hips, all the way up to the tops of your ears.
Step six is to mentally elongate your spine as if someone was pulling the crown of your head upwards towards the top of the sky and then, trusting that to hold you at optimal levels of uprightness (hence dignity) as you walk along, allow all your muscles and sinews to soften, relax and sink, so that your body’s weight drops into your lower half. This will lend you both lightness of being and gravitas of presence wherever you do roam.
Step seven is to open your heart and allow your love to flow freely in unconditional form to every sentient being you encounter and to simultaneously allow the love of every sentient being to flow back to you.
Step eight is to draw your mind back into the dead centre of your brain, into your pineal gland and from the depths of your being there, consciously affirm your willingness to engage in a positive way with the day: say, ‘This is my day (and/or night) and I’m choosing to live, it, love it and ride it for all it’s worth now.’
Step nine is to expect miracles – reality, once you’ve gathered your being into a unified shape in this manner, unfolds by a series of spectacular quantum shifts, rather than incrementally. These shifts are what we normally think of as miracles.
Follow steps one to nine hour by hour from now on and you’ll find yourself walking like the Buddha in the realm of the gods while with your feet on the ground and reality will bestow a thousand blessing on you at every turn, plus, as a result, you’ll find yourself less drawn to mobile devices, watching far less TV and being far less susceptible to the incessant onslaught of media messages polluting your mind. Your entertainment will derive far more from the actual spectacle of life rather than from simulated, manufactured facsimiles of it and your sense of self will expand so large you’ll feel as if you’re filling the entire universe, which once your mind clears, you are.
You are the universe and the universe is you.
So when you meet St Roger or whoever at the gate, you can say, I spent it being the universe and you’ll get an instant pass to the VIP room.