Don’t just breathe through life, take a breath, surrender, and change your life!

Rolling over onto my back, I put my arm up to block the sunlight streaming through the partially open blinds; I forgot to close the night before. Squinting against the blazing light, I reach for the nearby nightstand feeling for my phone. Hmmm, it’s not there. Lying back down, sinking my head into the pillow and taking several deep breaths, I begin to trace my steps from the night before. Snapping my fingers, I remember, it’s on the charger in the kitchen!

Terry's PaintngSliding into my jeans, I walk quietly down the long hallway, careful not to wake my friends from their slumber. The scene in the living room stops me in my tracks. The sunbeams and the crystal chandelier have conspired to grab my full attention this morning with a dazzling light show; the dabs of vibrant color dotting the walls, ceiling and floor is amazing.

I feel the urge to take a walk to the nearby river and get some fresh air. My phone says 6:30 a.m. but it’s too late to crawl back into bed now. The sun has managed to shake me awake this morning and instead of pulling the covers over my head, shielding my eyes from its glare, I decide to give in to it, and just breathe in its healing rays. Leaving a note for my friends so they don’t worry, I grab my journal, some fruit and trail mix to satisfy my growling stomach.

The river comes into view and I am seeing two side-by-side benches perfectly placed along its banks. Taking a deep breath, I widen my lens to capture the glory of it all; nature’s sights and sounds are the perfect elixir for my soul. I see a man sitting on one of the benches already – so I walk to the vacant one on his right and sit down. Oh, he’s an artist! He looks over at me and smiles, “Hawareya this fine mornin?” he asks.

Terry is his name and he is a proud Dubliner, and a well-known artist in Ireland. “Sittin by the river and tellin its wee story in my paintins, is me gift to me country,” he says. I share my trail mix with him and he shares colorful stories of his city with me. Putting his sketch book into my lap, he asks me to choose a favorite. “Where does this come from, your talent, this gift?” I ask. “Your sketches are fabuloso!”

His words come quickly with a very heavy Irish brogue and difficult to quote. This is the gist of his answer to my question:

We all have a talent or gift young man. Like the river, you have to surrender and let go, let it flow out of you instead of keeping it locked away. Either you can fight or you can float, go against the current or float with the river; wherever it takes you. Don’t just breathe through life, take a breath and let go, surrender, and change your life.

With those words of wisdom; to which he could not know the impact they would have on my day and my life from this moment forward, he bids me farewell, but not before he tears my favorite sketch from his book, signing his famous signature in the corner, and handing it to me as he turns and walks away.

I sit in amazement and wonder how this sun drenched morning in Dublin came about and how it has managed to teach me this valuable lesson within an hour of my rising. Lying down on the bench, I stretch out my body, allowing my feet to dangle over the edge; the hard wood feels good on my back. A few deep breaths, the space around me becomes still and the moment is now. I focus my gaze on the fluttering butterfly drifting by overhead and listen to the soothing soundscape of the river passing nearby. Terry’s words have left an echo in my mind. It’s another reminder to loosen my grip on the fantasy that I have control over my life; I don’t.

Surrender is a state of being, a letting go of past thoughts and actions, and a promise to focus only in the moment and not to the future. Trusting the Terrys and the Savannahs of the world, will step onto my path at the perfect time, leaving their ‘pearls of wisdom’ to take as my own, all the while, pointing me in the direction of the life I ought to be living.

Waking up from my power nap ten minutes later, I feel renewed! I understand the act of letting go; of surrendering, it fills my heart and connects me to a flow of energy brimming with ideas; which form into words; which form into sentences swirling around in my mind, organizing and shaping my storytelling until effortlessly coming to rest on the pages of my journal.

Te quiero. Joey

Check your expectations at the door and just ‘Be’!

Just ‘Be’! Oh, don’t you just want to strangle those words? Okay, I am not a violent guy, really I’m not, but there are times when catch phrases like ‘Just Be’ or ‘Be in the Moment’ land like a thud at my feet. I understand them conceptually but what does it feel like to just ‘Be’?

SunflowerCrossing the street to the venue I am ready to check this out; my first spiritual lecture with a large crowd, and I’m kind of psyched about it. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with people of like mind intrigued me enough to purchase a ticket. As I settle in my chair, there’s a palpable hum in the room, okay, so this is what it feels like to sit in a room with other spiritual junkies – cool!

Our man is a spiritual orator, a leader in his field, his famous name is known by millions around the world, and everyone here today is excited to catch a glimpse of him – and that includes me. His effortless charisma zooms straight into my consciousness and succeeds in taking me to a whole new level; if I had a disease or something, I’m sure he would be the cure for what ails me. He comes across as a master in his field; a head above the rest and it looks to me like the crowd agrees with that assessment. Two hours pass quickly; time to say good-bye to my new friends, and head for home.

A few hours later as my glow begins to fade and my feet become planted in the ground again, I’m left sitting with my thoughts from my day. I grope for the ‘aha’ moments and the takeaways from his lecture, and my metaphorical hand closes on air, I was expecting something! That baffles me; no action plan, no homework? How do you get to ‘Be’, you know, ‘estar en el momento’ (‘in the moment’) like he said was ‘a must’ to live spiritually, if you don’t tell me how to do it? I don’t remember him saying and I need to know ‘how’. I do.

Why was I disappointed with the lecture? was the question that took over my thinking in the days that followed, and then finally, while taking a shower, the answer would come – Expectations will doom you to fail! Ah, expectations! So true, I had expectations of my speaker. Why not just ‘Be’ content, just ‘Be’ satisfied, just ‘Be’ in the moment! Darn those catch phrases!

Let Savannah, my teacher, explain.

This new way is a practice in mind training. The world you see beyond your eyes is a reflection in a mirror of your thoughts. You are merely gazing into a world reflecting your perceptions and beliefs in your own mind. Expectations will color your experience, either delighting or disappointing you by how things turned out, but never measuring up to your original ideal! The moment you ‘let go’ of your expectations, and surrender that thing which has preoccupied your mind and that you have given great importance to – now, something totally unexpected can happen. Simply let it be – stop trying so hard.

Have you ever noticed your jaw clenching, knee joints hurting, muscles tightening? I have, and now I know why. The mind has attached itself to a belief and holding fast; like gripping a rope in a ‘tug of war’ and determined to not give up an inch. Amazing how mental awareness and physical health are connected. When my knee tweaks, I no longer ignore the signs, I even get excited. It’s a sign to let go of a stubborn belief that is seizing my mind and hurting my body. I throw my arms around the word ‘Be’ gladly, and surrendering is my practice. There is no way to define the experience of ‘Be’, I’ve tried, but I can feel the difference; energizing and relaxing all at the same time. It is the moment, when all things fall into place – perfectly.

Check your expectations at the door and sólo será! (just ‘Be’)

Te quiero. Joey