Pursuing the Dream vs. Living the Dream

photo credit: Leo Reynolds trivial pursuit – orange token with wedges via photopin (license)

I started a post about a different subject and had it half written. And then I woke up this morning to find it had disappeared. Pretty funny to have it vanish into thin air! So, I’m taking this as my cue that the moment is calling me to a different conversation. It was funny since I was struggling to write it and it didn’t feel quite right to me, but I was resisting what my body and heart signals were telling me. So, I put it on ice and asked the universe what I should write about.

The answer to that is something I’ve been working with and on for a long time. I had this epiphany some time ago that I needed to change my language.

It goes like this…

First, writing pursued me. Then I pursued it. Then I was in hot pursuit of it being my career. Now I realize, I can be happy and fulfilled no matter what phase I’m in.  Changing the language around it from the pursuit of my ideal life to living it as it is in this moment – well, that changes everything.

I’ve been happier in the past few months because of this shift in my perspective, happier than I think I’ve been my whole adult life. I’m creating new work. I’m learning new skills. I’ve committed to showing up to it every single day in some way. A lifetime of longing became an exploration of being.

I’m curious what you long for. What has alluded you until now? Dreams are funny things, something we believe we can’t quite touch. What I’ve noticed is the longer I have a practice of meditating, the more I can see there is only the thinnest veil between being asleep and being awake – literally and figuratively. The thinnest veil between wishing and being, between “dream” and “now.” And the veil is self-imposed. It’s an illusion, more like a holograph. Just a projection.

Making tiny shifts in perception changes the picture.

Making tiny shifts in language changes the story.

Making tiny shifts in being changes the energy.

So, how did my shift happen?

It happened by as I learned to bring full awareness to my body and be grounded in the moment. I experimented because I felt the difference when I was present. I kept reading about all the answers being right at our fingertips. So, I challenged myself to take my meditation practice off the cushion in a really meaningful way — with the idea of it being an experiment.

I got super willing to see what happens when I dropped my habits of future-spinning and being afraid. I figured I could always revert to my old ways.

I showed up one day this summer. Really showed up. I stayed with the moment then the next then the one after that. I allowed my body and heart-mind intuition to guide me. By the end of a day or two, I found this new piece of my creative puzzle and it snapped into place. I stopped struggling. Wow!

I kept at it. Things started to happen when I asked, “Show me what I need to see or hear right now.”

Little pings and vibes, slashes of light, whispers of “follow this way” guided me. I trusted. I let go. I didn’t know where any of it was going. It didn’t matter because it fulfilled me in the moment. The experience was rich and full just as it was.

I was no longer in pursuit. Instead, I was there, on the spot, in the moment. I no longer wistfully pined for the day I became a full-time writer ( and the story I told myself about that).  Instead of missing out on all the joy I got when I wrote, I could enjoy it now.  Same went for my meditation practice. I have a regular practice but somedays I don’t get to the cushion. Then I understood everything was meditation.  I was in the space of it fully, being present to whatever arose whether I sat on a cushion or at my desk or cooked my dinner or washed my laundry. Waking up to that meant I now see when I’m trying to fool myself or numb out or shut down. I get the chance to be gentle and kind to myself about it.

photo credit: susie2778 Incoming- yellow peril! via photopin (license)

Buddhism teaches that we are who we are at any given moment because of the causes and conditions that brought us there. And in any moment, I can wake up. I can change my outcome by being aware. It’s not rocket science. It’s awareness.

Pursuit. Chasing instead of being. Blech. It’s exhausting.

What a beautiful relief to just be. Let go of the outcome. Trusting the wisdom of the moment gave me all I ever desired. It didn’t change my exact situation, the way my life is in this moment because of causes and conditions. I have to work with what is – as it is.

As I wrote about in my last post, we have two choices when it comes to decision making and letting go of the outcome.

-Make a decision and accept what happens.

-Or make a decision and don’t accept what happens.

Play with these and see which one is gentler, kinder, and more fruitful. I’m opting for the first one.

Here’s a little contemplation exercise for you. What do these words feel like?

Yearn, strive, desire, want, need, pursue.

Or…

Am, is, be, have.

This isn’t about solidifying ourselves with a permanent, fixed label because life is fluid and ever-changing. But we can acknowledge in each moment we have what we need.

When I find myself (and it still happens more than I’d like) saying “I want, I need…” I notice it that much faster which means I can make the shift sooner to “Being now. This moment is filled with wisdom and there is nothing lacking…” which takes the knot out of my chest.

I hope you’ll experiment with these little shifts. Happiness and fulfillment don’t have to wait for some achievement or end.

May you be,

Andrea

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