A Native American Elder was asked, “What shall we do if we get lost?”
He replied, “Stand still. The trees before you and the bushes beside you are not lost. Wherever you are is a place called here, and you must treat it as a powerful stranger, both asking to know and be known. “Listen,” the forest whispers, “I have made this place, and you can leave and return once again, saying, here.” No two trees are the same to Raven, no two branches the same to Wren. Stand still. Listen. The forest knows where you are. Let it find you.”.
How many times have you caught yourself in a situation where you were asking the question, WHAT NOW? Times when you fell down, screwed up or blew it…What now? Times when life took a left turn and you got hurt, got a diagnosis, or something awful happened… What now? Feeling angry, alone, or afraid…What now? The economy isn’t cooperating, work and family are not cooperating with your plan…What now? “Wherever you are is a place called here, and you must treat it as a powerful stranger both asking to know and be known.” When in the midst of a life experience, good or not so good, it is where you are. Don’t curse it, don’t blame it, don’t deny it, don’t resist it, don’t fight it, run from it, or push it away. KNOW IT AND ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE KNOWN IN THE MIDST OF IT! Embrace it, behold it, and be totally present to what is. It is only in being present to what is that you can change what is. It is only in being present to yourself, humanly and spiritually, that you can alter any experience.
By owning your feelings and being present to “WHAT IS” you keep from being consumed by whatever is happening. It’s usually when you judge, resist, and deny that “WHAT IS” eats you up. The poem encourages us to “Stand still, Listen. The forest knows where you are and will find you.” God knows where you are and will find you. You must be present and awake when God arrives.
Pema Chodron writes, “Don’t run away from your fear! Lean into it and let it inform you. Stay present to your humanity and find compassion in the midst of it.” This takes deep spiritual maturity and practice.
Here are 5 steps/practices to being present.
- Become aware of your breath. If it’s out of control, get it back before you do anything else.
- Bear witness to what is without judgment and say to yourself, “Isn’t this interesting.”
- Bear witness to your feelings/thoughts like a detached observer.
- Consciously release that which doesn’t serve you.
- Repeat the first four steps as long as necessary.
In these very simple steps you will never be lost; and God, love, light, and peace will always find you.