Instantaneous Transformation, Day 99
When my friend Adriana and I agreed during the Brasil-NY Cine Fest to attend a seminar together called “Instantaeous Transformation,” I had a vague idea that the concept reminded me of Ekhart Tolle’s teachings about living in the moment, free of the ego. In practice, I understood before arriving some of the sentiments behind Adriana’s passion for the group and her slight hesitancy to return. I really wanted to finish Monday’s blog post about last weekend after my voice lesson and hadn’t had enough time to breathe, no less process so many events and emotions. So, I wrote, at the risk of vulnerably attending my first (very personal and exposed) meeting over a half hour late.
In college, we explored Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his concept of flow. I meditated with a priest, sang in a gospel choir, experienced intense moments of presence in life-altering concerts, and improvised as an actor and a singer. I did have some amazing discoveries and moments in time. I saw myself as pretty enlightened compared to the average American, despite my uptight and conservatively closed-minded leanings at the time. I now see very clearly how much I then desperately needed to grow. Tonight’s mini reunion with great friends from Westminster Choir College and last week’s sad occasion to see even more of my old acquaintances tonight showed me further how much I’ve grown into a more secure, open-minded, happy adult.
As an adult, I’ve continued to improvise, create, listen, study, and experience the importance of locking into life now, regardless of past or future. Somewhat grasping the concept of “the power of now,” I acknowledge (some of) my failings day to day when the incessant voice in my head distracts my attention and seek to stay present. Blind arrogance however has crept in, I fear. In place of true growth and open-mindedness, I look to pay more attention in moments I deem important and feel free to lose focus in at least ninety percent of my daily interactions. Blaming my lack of memory on too small a hippocampus instead of my self-made ADD, I overlook the obvious: every moment carries significance, and one can exist fully at all times without judging. How else can one experience, live, feel, or remember anything completely?
Yet carrying a hint of doubt (mostly because I can’t afford their meetings), I admire Ariel and Shya Kane and their passion to help themselves and others live full and satisfying lives. With time in each session set aside for the participants to speak openly to the group and ask for advice about anything at all, I felt fairly free to speak even during my first class. Actually, the gentleman in front of me who stroked his wife’s hair for at least ten minutes straight distracted me enough to ask about distractions in life and how to quiet them in order to focus, a problem I often encounter. All three (and especially the first) of their mantras speak to this point:
- Anything you resist persists, grows stronger, and dominates your life.
- Be as you are.
- Anything that you see and allow to be exactly as it is completes itself in that instant.
Ariel caught me off guard by first complementing my intelligence and then immediately countering that he could tell that I really didn’t want to hear what he had to say. As much as I wanted to deny it, he had a point. I love being right. Furthermore, if I didn’t love excuses, I wouldn’t have felt compelled to create a blog to try to get past them. As much as I value withdrawal from the sensory overload of the city, I also have an addiction to that incessant voice inside my head that compliments or criticizes every little thing and insists upon stating its opinion at every turn. Monday night’s meeting with Ariel and Shya shook my foundations a bit, a discomfort for which I give thanks.
Relentlessly believing in full focus and presence in “important” moments, I have fallen into yet another judgmental pattern in liberal clothes. Although I don’t expect to attend their sessions regularly because of financial constraints, I have begun to see at least one of my errors. In their book Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work, Ariel Kane writes, “Heaven on earth is happening simultaneously with the way our lives are showing up, right now in this moment. The trick is to be able to access this coexisting state, day in, day out, moment-by-moment, not just when in pleasant, ideal circumstances.” No doubt I have heard that on previous occasions, yet today the sentiment triggered a much needed paradigm shift.
For the last two days, I have set down my ipod, for the most part, to engage in the seemingly less optimal moments of my day. The occasional and surprising quiet of my mind refreshes me, and my own television wears on my nerves. With a long road ahead of me, I have had an instantaneous transformation yet will forget this lesson and need reminding. Clearly, since Ariel and Shya insist that “working on yourself doesn’t work,” as I think in that persistent voice that I have a lot of work to do. Despite my arrogance, I at least now can acknowledge a need for change and potentially can even see the road markers on the way to a path to enlightened living. Although their revealing and intimate format may not work for everyone, they have some invaluable lessons to teach that I find worth pursuing either through their books, seminars, free podcasts, or other teachers of living presently and without judgment. Thanks, Adriana, Ariel, and Shya, for giving me somewhere to start.