I'm looking at a candle one of my best friends made me for Christmas. On it is inscribed, "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the Light." As I stare at the candle and back at this computer screen, I am deeply reminded of the challenge that simple switch really can be.
Here we are at the midway point of our 40 Days of Lights meditation; and although three-fourths of the country is still wrapped under a wintry blanket, spring has officially sprung. It's the perfect moment to reflect on the shifts noticed and unnoticed from our planted seed of intention within. Have you remembered the practice every time you turn on a light to shower yourself with the feelings behind your desire? Have you relaxed in the surrender of knowing it is all perfectly unfolding for you right now as you turn the light off?
My answer is no. Nope, nein, nada, nay. No, I have not.
When I first thought of this meditation, I thought, "Oh, what a simple way to create some change. We all have to turn on and off a light at least several times a day anyway, so why not make this a fun exercise to incorporate into one's already filled-to-the-brim-day-with-work-and-activities." All of this is true still, and it is a simple switch to make within while you literally flip that switch on your wall. But for me, even just hours into the "meditation," I'd turn lights off and on all the time and only later realize: "Oh, right, there's that meditation thing I wrote I'm supposed to be doing."
But before I beat myself up about it, I went instead to a deep place of awareness, first feeling into the light switch within as if I had just physically done it, but then going further into the present moment, consciously aware of every sensory signal happening within and around me right now. What had prevented me from remembering to breathe when I turn a light on or off? My preoccupied mind. That's when the bolt of electricity shook waves through my system -- awareness, in and of itself, is the switch.
Life is one big roller coaster ride of personal choices from exhilarating joy to frightening turns and can ultimately be the main distraction for dealing with the Self. All around us events are happening, people are calling, emails are building, twitter is tweeting, celebrities are dancing, and conspiracy theories are covering the news, and before we know it we've forgotten to take a breath when we turn off the light. The swirl of activity around us is constant. And if we can accept this fact alone, we're already halfway there. The point is to learn how to then use this constant swirl of activity as a catalyst to bring deeper awareness within.
This past week alone has been a huge test of "awareness building" for me. Living in SoCal, the recent earthquake we all felt really was a rattler. Literally and figuratively. Three's nothing like the out-of-control sensation of the earth moving beneath you, especially when awakened from a deep peaceful slumber. That, combined with your partner screaming an expletive at a decibel level at the same time has to say the least, kept me shaken all week long. Even with extra devotional time to meditation and yoga. But the gift it gave me is exactly that -- extra "forced" quiet time. Awareness #1.
I was asked about my reaction to Fred Phelps' death from many of my friends. Honestly, he isn't a man I devoted much of my time thinking about anyway. Of course we all know the web of hatred he spun, but I learned long ago when personally confronting these type of protesters one on one, it is up to me whether I choose to let them impact me or not. Hate cannot be overridden by sharing more Hate; it can only be lightened with Love. That's the space I was holding when I heard the news, and apparently as the days have passed, I have read over and over again in my Facebook feed and beyond, the very similar reaction from the LGBT community. What we've seen is in his passing, and in his message of vitriol, is a community actually coming deeper together in the Spirit of Love. Awareness #2.
Although I live in SoCal, where essentially winter consists of a two-day downpour and a week of 50-degree weather, I'm acutely aware most of the country is still under Old Man Winter's spell. There's no doubt weather can have an impact on your daily lives -- physically and emotionally. And even as we crossed the pathway marking the first day of spring, it's still darn cold some places, and it can therefore inherently dampen the Spirit. Then I saw a friend post a picture of tiny little tulip seedlings bursting through the snow with a simple tag, "I'm smiling on the inside." It brought tears to my eyes; finding the light in the dark. Awareness #3.
Whatever they may be, we are all impacted by outside forces. None of us are immune, in fact it's one of the great joys in being Human. But how we react to them is something we can control, grow, and learn from. That's also the awesome gift of being Human. We can either allow ourselves to get caught up in life circumstances, and therefore distracted from living in our full conscious awareness, or we can use them to become fully consciously aware. It's up to us.
Make the choice. Switch on the light to bring more light to the moment. With awareness comes a sense of disconnection from Ego and a deeper connection to your Self. Looking at that candle I see now the bigger gift given to me -- a sense of awareness like never before. Give this gift to yourself. Let your Light Shine for others to See. Even if you haven't been doing the 40 Days of Lights meditation, you can start right now. Although I still haven't mastered the consistency of it, I'm becoming more and more aware. That's the bigger light here than I could have ever dreamed creating.