by Nick Andrea
the Moon awakens me from
forgetfulness of this.
This I believe to be the goal of all human life. What is this? This. Right here, right now. ‘Me’ in this moment.
Countless spiritual and yogic traditions have devised means to come back to this – astanga yoga, meditation, mantra, visualization, drumming, ecstatic dance, prayer – all beautiful expressions of the human aspiration for presence. This also happens to be my passion in life, after all, “what else is there than this?”
I used to work with youth and tried to teach them presence but this was very hard for them to grasp in the ways I was demonstrating it. Teenagers, for example (especially of the American variety), don’t take to sitting silently for any length of time. Maybe I can do that, but I found that to expect them to was unrealistic. Hec, most adults in my family can’t even do that. I got discouraged and gave up.
Though, I continued to deepen my own practice. After some, however, time I began to discover that the sort of excessive discipline I was trying to teach them was not conducive to my own growth in presence. I found it increasingly separate me from the moment. I started to think maybe I’ve got an inner teenager, too. Ironically, though, I began to notice this presence appearing spontaneously without any rigorous *formal discipline. It came while walking the dog, preparing dinner, or even doing something I hated for work. That’s not to say practices like yoga and qigong and even drumming which I love so much didn’t also produce it, they did, but only when they were called for.
Appropriateness. I have found that the moment has an intelligence vastly more expansive than my unit consciousness (which is to say, my human mind). It knows what is needed. Since the golden discovery that the dawning of spiritual awareness is not limited to moments of formal spiritual practice I have begun experimenting with different methods for eliciting it. I know feel that creativity is an integral part of it, especially in my path, and that the revelation of the correct “practice” in found in this intimacy with now.
Today, for example, I took my drum outside and played for a good while. This occupied my brain enough that I was able to enter the moment purely and sit for some time in stillness. What I saw was I think the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen – a tree against the backdrop of a blue sky; beauty in the eye of the beholder.
But going back to the example of drumming, I remember when I used to play with Alokli (check me out in the orange playing the bell, on the left!). I would go to class, play for three hours, and feel like a million bucks every time, hands down. It didn’t matter how I felt or what I was dealing with when I walked in the door. The power of drumming…
But, many such things have power if they are what’s needed in the moment. And how do we know what that is? You guessed it, by being here. Thanks for reading.
*”Formal” here means adhering to a rigid form of how something should look, for example, 30 minutes of Zazen meditation sitting in lotus posture twice a day. I find that I can still have strict discipline as long as it’s not tied to any specific form, but to the formless now.