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Being Present in the Celebration of Life

  December 16, 2021

Are you able to pause and just celebrate life, for no reason, no matter what is happening in the world around you? Has the ‘great pause’ of the Covid pandemic allowed you to shift your life priorities in healthy, balanced ways, or have you slipped into states of overwhelm, fear or anxiety?

Why is it that most of us just can’t seem to slow down, pause and play unless there is some kind of personal crisis grinding us to a halt? Why do so many of us get stuck on our own version of the busy, often exhausting, hamster-wheel?

I invite you to pause.

What can you be grateful for, right here, right now? Ask yourself this question.

Life is a miracle. That you are here, now, in this moment, is cause to celebrate, isn’t it? Right here, right now, in this present moment, is there anything wrong?  Fears, sadness, and anxiety is all rooted in the past or the future. Accomplishing goals are rooted in the future and based on past beliefs, thoughts, stories and decisions. Right here, right now, however, there is only the miracle of life. In the present moment, there is everything to celebrate – the miraculous breath of life itself.

The challenge for many of us in this human experience, is to just pause the past and future made up in our minds, and celebrate life now, for no external reason at all. Joy, for no reason. Love, for no reason. Play, for no reason. Life needs no reason. Life just IS. What if we could just celebrate all aliveness from the wholeness of our BEING. Just BE-Cause → BEING present with the CAUSE or Source of the life that is flowing through our veins.  

In my past, stopping to celebrate, just be-cause, for no reason, was almost never ‘my thing’ to do. I seldom even paused to celebrate my accomplishments, or the accomplishments of others. I was in a hurry to accomplish the next thing on the ‘hamster-wheel’ that I was on. My self-worth was tied up in what I DID, rather than who I AM. I was never ‘good-enough’ unless I ‘did enough’ and I could never DO enough TO BE ENOUGH to BE GOOD. Even now, creating moments to celebrate my BEING ENOUGH, because I AM ENOUGH, is a practice to be conscious of. I often forget and get busy running around doing things ‘I think I should do’ and forget to pause, play and celebrate BEING. I, like many, like to DO things, sometimes to the point of imbalance. Noticing when I am out of balance and adjusting my being-doing, is constant, conscious practice as both are a valuable part of the human experience.

Through much of my life, I have had my eyes focused on getting to the ‘top of the mountain’. This is not just a metaphor - it was what I actually did when I went hiking. Only at the top of mountains, did I completely stop to celebrate. On the way to the top, I barely noticed the flowers, the bubbling brooks, or the moss-filled forests. I wanted to get to the top as fast as I could. I usually hiked alone too, partly because others might slow me down on my goal to get to the top. Even on the way down mountains, it was about finishing, and going home. In my hurried descent, I would again barely notice the beauty of the changing landscape, the subtle changes in the light, or the incredible variety of plants, flowers, insects or birds that my focus had hidden from my attention. Thankfully, over time, I have changed that, and it has expanded my joy.

Santorini, GreeceI remember an experience in Santorini , Greece, about 25 years ago that called my attention to this behaviour of ‘not stopping to smell the roses.’ I was off on a beautiful hike along top of the cauldron that had amazing views of the ocean, all along the way. In this case, there was not a mountain-top destination that I had my sights on, but there was a spot on the map that I wanted to get to – my goal. I was walking fast, even running sometimes, because I was so energized. There were no pauses planned in my mind to stop and fully breath into the beautiful moments unfolding before me. After all, I had to get somewhere, and I had a plan.   

Then, along the trail, I met a man and woman couple from New York. The man shouts to me, “Where are you going so fast?” Somehow, in reaction to the energy with which he had said this, I responded with, “Yes, where am I going so fast?” I stopped. We then naturally engaged in a beautiful conversation that went deep, fast. We talked about our travels, and experiences, but the conversation quickly shifted into just being together in the moment, as time stood still. We had stepped into just celebrating the beautiful connection we were having.

Stacking StnesThen, in a rather fun, child-like way, they invited me to be ‘initiated’ into the “sacred art of stone balancing.” You know – balancing and stacking one stone on top of the other, creating as stable a structure as you can? So, for the next couple of hours we just played with the stacking of stones. To do this, you just have to be in the present moment, focused on the very subtle adjustments that need to be made, so each stone stays in place and the structure is stable. Intuition is also playfully present as you are guided to the perfect ‘next stone.’ In this practice, there is also an ongoing celebration as each stone finds its place, one at a time, step by step. There was no known destination here – you are done when you are done, and celebrate each step until that moment of ‘doneness’ or satisfaction is reached. 

Needless to say, I never did get to my intended destination on Santorini that day. Instead, this stone-stacking connection led to a wonderful dinner together on their balcony with a beautiful view overlooking the ocean. After a day, they checked out of their hotel to travel to another island, and I had the opportunity to take their room with this amazing view of the ocean, even while laying in my bed.

You never know what amazing things can happen in life when you pause, let go of your agenda and just notice the magic that wants to unfold from moment to moment.  Life has surprising gifts to bring us, but they often fall outside of our conditioned goals, plans and busyness. Those gifts come naturally when we pause to play in the enchanting, emergent flow of life. This invitation for celebration and connection often shows up in synchronicity.

I have noticed that in western society at least, people are conditioned to only feel valuable if we are doing something and accomplishing something. If people aren’t doing anything or accomplishing anything (as our upbringing or society defines accomplishment), then they can be harshly judged as ‘lazy free-loaders’, or ‘useless trash.’ Alternatively, some may be congratulated in retirement because they have finally ‘earned’ the right to step off their exhausting hamster wheel - as if we need to justify doing nothing by first working ourselves to exhaustion!

Why is personal value and worth so wrapped up in what we DO, rather than who we are BEING and BECOMING? Why do we resist just BEING?

I agree that accomplishment is an important part of living a ‘good life.’ At some level, we all want to make a positive impact. Setting and achieving goals are part of the human experience, and they can help us feel like our life has purpose, meaning and impact. However, the ego often takes hold of this process and adds a “better than” or “less than” measurement on life based on external accomplishments. So often, the ego puts a “should” behind goals and adds a dose of guilt to accompany it. Achieving your goals might reduce the guilt, if that is what is driving them, but that does not mean you will be happy, peaceful or fulfilled. However, if your internal and external goals are guilt free, arising from the inspiration of soul, in the service of the whole, then these pure goals will ultimately lead you to pure gold!

What if the purpose of life was to celebrate it?

What if the purpose of life has more to do with HOW we are BEING and expanding in life than what we DO? What if we could just be fully present in the experience of life and celebrate each moment; witnessing it without judgement? What if ‘inner work,’ leading to pure, loving presence, an attitude of gratitude and a celebration of life, had a much greater impact for the world and the growth of our soul, than any outer work we do or think we ‘should’ do?

When DOING begins from BEING, flows from BEING, and ends in BEING, then DOING itself is BEING in celebration of life. I invite you to let BEING guide your DOING. Be present in being and doing, stack your stones on a solid foundation, celebrate each stone placement (even if the stones sometimes fall down), and playfully witness the magic unfold; transforming your life into pure, pure gold.   

What can you DO in order to practice presence and BE in the celebration of life?  Here are some suggestions…

  1. Pause to Play

Pure play pulls you into presence. It is transformative. Take time out of your day to engage in play. If this is difficult, find a child to teach you how. They will introduce you to your own inner child. You might also take a class in Improv, learn to play an instrument, play with art, do laughter yoga, or initiate yourself into the art of stone stacking! From time to time, just create open space on your calendar - play times with no agendas, no plans, no tasks, and no destination. In these times, just allow Life celebrate you!

  1. Pause to transform your stories

In living life, you have created a story in your mind about what happened. Your story about your life is a perspective which may not be entirely true, or not useful anymore. Your dreams, or the story of the future that you wish to create, are also influenced by past conditioning and often keep you stuck waiting for the future to one day correct the wrongs, or make up for the mistakes of your past. If parts of your story are still filled with limiting beliefs, emotional charge, judgements, wounds and drama, then holding onto these will pull you out of the present moment and darken your celebrations. You have the power to completely transform these stories through forgiveness, shadow-work and reprogramming limiting beliefs. When you forgive, a new story will emerge which is usually more true than the old. Whenever you are caught up in or get upset from these old stories, pause, forgive and rewrite your story. There is always a perspective that sets you free and opens up a joyful cause for celebration. 

  1. Pause and reconnect with nature and the natural

Put aside your work, electronics and other distractions and spend time in nature.  Be present to it with all your senses. Notice what you see, hear, feel, taste and touch. Listen to nature sing. Breathe it in. Get to know the soil, the water, the grass, the leaves and the trees. Nature itself is a celebration of aliveness, so being in it and with it, will bring you back to your true nature.

  1. Pause and practice presence and celebration with others

Life tends to mirror what is inside you, back to you. This is especially true with people. Being in relationship and communion with others is an excellent way to expand your capacity for celebration. Your interactions with others will tend to show you what blocks or expands your presence and joy. With courage and curiosity, looking into the mirror that others present to you, you can practice clearly seeing, speaking and listening beyond the filters of your own stories, beliefs and assumptions. You’ll find understanding and respect. Consider joining an open dialogue circle to practice presence and celebrate being with others.

  1. Pause to be grateful.

Find something to be grateful for throughout each day. Fully step into the feeling. With gratitude, celebrate your food, your learning, your relationships. Practice being fully present with every activity you choose to do, without distraction or multitasking. Honour your activity with your grateful presence. Celebrate life in all its diversity of experience and emotion, showing you your aliveness!


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