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When everything is flowing according to our idea of how things should be, it’s easy to feel in harmony with the rhythms of the universe. When there is a lack of alignment between what we want and how our life is unfolding, we’re more likely to feel disharmony, stress, or frustration. Yet it is our resistance to what is happening in the present moment that intensifies our distress. Whether we’re getting a root canal or finding out that we’ve lost our job, our fear and the frightening stories we tell ourselves about our situation magnify our pain.
The present moment is not always easy to accept, but learning to listen to the sensations in our body and the message they are sending will calm our emotional turbulence and ultimately will enable us to benefit from the experience. The following process can help you let go of resistance and constriction and open to higher states of harmony, creativity, and joy in the present moment:
Accept the present.
Begin by tuning into your body and your environment. Listen to the sounds around you, becoming aware of the hum of a fan, birds singing outside your window, and the sound of your own breath. Become aware of the sensations in your body – the way your feet feel in your shoes, the chair supporting your back, the clothing touching your skin. Bring your attention to the inflow and outflow of air through your nose. Continue observing your breath, allowing it to bring you into the present moment.
Accept the signals of your body.
Now put your attention on the internal sensations in your body. You may feel tightness in your shoulders, aching in your back, or constriction in your throat. Conversely, perhaps you’re feeling lightness in your heart or a sense of connectedness to the earth. Whether the sensations are pleasant or uncomfortable, feel them without resistance. If sadness comes up, welcome it. If anger rises up, allow it to move through your body and release it with the exhalations of your breath.
While sometimes we find ourselves in situations over which we have no apparent control, most of our daily struggles are the consequences of previous choices we have made. Accepting our contribution to the challenge we face can help us see that we are free to make new choices that lead to new possibilities.
Accepting the inevitability of change doesn’t mean that we relinquish our desires or wallow in situations that we can change. Instead, it’s focusing on the present while discovering the freedom to respond creatively.
With deepened awareness, we can make new choices, let go of habits that no longer serve us, and commit to doing something different. Remember, we have control over our choices, but not over the results of our choices. We do our best and watch with curiosity and composure as life unfolds. Connect to your body, accept this moment, know that change is inevitable, and become clear on what you would like to see manifest. Your ability to co-create the next moment requires acceptance of the present.
People on a spiritual path often struggle to reconcile the apparent contradiction between embracing wholeness and material abundance. Warnings about the spiritual risks inherent in the pursuit of abundance are present in most religious traditions. Christ told us it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. In Buddhism and Hinduism, the monk’s path of renunciation is promoted as superior to the ways of the householder. Knowing that in the end, we can’t take it with us, why commit to abundance?
The answer is in the word. Abundance is derived from the Latin word abundare, which means “rising in waves.” The essence of abundance is the experience of the ocean of life rising in waves of love, energy, and enthusiasm. Connected to the infinite, unbounded field of spirit, the abundance of the universe becomes accessible to you.
The Endless Cosmos
The universe is the ultimate expression of something coming from nothing, and the essence of the creation story is the same whether you ascribe to Genesis, Vedic philosophy, or quantum cosmology. From the Vedic perspective, the infinite, eternal unmanifest has inherent creative potential. The universe as we know it is the expression of one exhalation of the Supreme Lord, Mahavishnu. When he inhales, the current cosmic manifestation will dissolve, until Mahavishnu’s next breath when he re-creates time and space.
From a modern scientific perspective, the universe is intrinsically abundant. The current estimate of stars in the universe is 10²¹, which is a one with twenty-one zeros after it: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Scientists now suspect that all the known matter and energy is only about 4 percent of what exists. The other 96 percent of the cosmos is currently believed to consist of dark energy and dark matter. In addition to unfathomable quantities of energy and matter, the universe is abundant in mystery.
Mother Nature has revealed her prolific creative capacity since the first life forms emerged almost 3.8 billion years ago. The number of named plant and animal species on earth now exceeds 1.5 million, which is estimated to be less than 10 percent of the total that exists. We share this planet with 20,000 species of fish, nearly 10,000 species of birds, and a little more than 3,000 species of mammals.
The Essence of Abundance
Abundance is a state of consciousness in which you believe in your clear and unimpeded connection to the source of creativity. You are inherently confident that your needs will be met. Your inner value is independent of your outer possessions. You recognize that the universe is abundant, and that you are an expression of universe.
Commit to abundance consciousness. On a daily basis, before going to sleep, take an inventory of your life and allow your heart to fill with gratitude for the things, experiences, and people in your life. Even during those times when your life is not unfolding the way you would like it to, bring abundance into your awareness and you will notice a shift in your perspective. With this inner shift, you will observe a spontaneous clearing and abundance will flow.
Intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfills all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening, or love. Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention. When you decide to buy a birthday present, wiggle your toes, or call a friend, it all starts with intention.
An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create. Like real seeds, intentions can’t grow if you hold on to them. Only when you release your intentions into the fertile depths of your consciousness can they grow and flourish. In the book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Succes, by Deepak Chopra, the Law of Intention and Desire describes the five steps for harnessing the power of intention to create anything you desire.
1. Get Clear on your Intentions and Desires
Most of the time our mind is caught up in thoughts, emotions, and memories, and it’s easy to fall into the grip of our ego’s fears and demands. It is therefore important to remind yourself – day in and day out – of your intentions, desires, and spiritual purpose. Many people find it helpful to write down their intentions and review them each day, just before meditation. (Learn more about meditation here.)
2. Slip into the Gap
Once you’ve reviewed your intentions and desires, let them go – simply stop thinking about them and begin your regular meditation practice. In meditation you experience your true Self, which is pure awareness, pure potentiality, and pure being. When you’re rooted in the experience of pure potentiality, your intentions can spontaneously manifest with effortless ease.
3. Remain Centered in a State of Restful Awareness
Intention is much more powerful when it comes from a place of contentment than if it arises from a sense of lack or need. Stay centered and refuse to be influenced by other people’s doubts or criticisms. Your higher Self knows that everything is all right and will be all right, even without knowing the timing or the details of what will happen.
4. Detach from the Outcome
Relinquish your rigid attachment to a specific result and live in the wisdom of uncertainty. Attachment is based on fear and insecurity, while detachment is based on the unquestioning belief in the power of your true Self. Intend for everything to work out as it should, then let go and allow opportunities and openings to come your way.
5. Let the Universe Handle the Details
Your focused intentions set the infinite organizing power of the universe in motion. Trust that infinite organizing power to orchestrate the complete fulfillment of your desires. Don’t listen to the voice that says that you have to be in charge, that obsessive vigilance is the only way to get anything done. The outcome that you try so hard to force may not be as good for you as the one that comes naturally. You have released your intentions into the fertile ground of pure potentiality, and they will bloom when the season is right.
As we begin a new year filled with unlimited possibility, take some time to consider your intentions, your desires, and where you want to focus your attention in the months ahead. Thousands of years ago, the Indian sages observed that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our intentions and desires. The classic Vedic text the Upanishads declares: “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
The devastating wildfires that have swept through Arizona, New Mexico, and other regions of the U.S. this summer, have forced the evacuation of thousands of residents, as well as their cats, dogs, horses, and other cherished pets.
Animals are sentient beings that bring us boundless love, comfort and happiness, and the wildfires are a strong reminder that if we have pets, we need to have an emergency plan that includes their care. Here are a few ideas to get started.
1.) Identify several possible locations where you can take your animals if you have to evacuate. Veterinarians will sometimes take in pets, or there may be shelters in your area that are equipped to accept animals during an emergency. For health and space reasons, animals usually aren’t allowed in public emergency shelters.
2.) Create an emergency kit that includes the following:
- An extra supply of any medications your pets need
- An identification tag, extra collar and leash
- A copy of your pets’ medical records, including vaccinations, in a waterproof container. Most kennels won’t admit animals without proof of current rabies and other required shots.
- At least a week’s supply of water and food for your pets, including a water dish
- A favorite toy that can comfort your pet
- Plastic bags and other items for disposing of your pets’ waste
- Current photos of your pets in case they get lost during the disaster. Make sure that you’ve included in the photos for proof of guardianship.
- A durable harness, crate, or carrier. Even if your pets normally roam free, they may be scared during an emergency and need to be safely transported in a carrier.
3.) Find a neighbor, friend, or relative who will agree to take care of your animals in the event that you’re unable to get home during an emergency. The person should be aware of any medical conditions and hiding places your pets may have, and have the contact information for your veterinarian.
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark
from another person.Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those
who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
Just a few years ago, a little known account of the first Thanksgiving, written by founding father Benjamin Franklin in 1785, was published in The Compleated Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, edited by Mark Skousen.
As Franklin described, the first settlers in New England faced many hardships and brutal winters as they struggled to survive and establish themselves. They developed a tradition of setting aside many days of fasting and prayer, beseeching God to take care of their many lacks and woes. “Being so piously dispos’d, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented,” Franklin writes.
At an assembly gathered to proclaim yet another fast, a farmer “of plain sense” stood up and suggested that instead of “wearying heaven with their complaints,” they proclaim a thanksgiving and offer gratitude for the many blessings they’d already received – the rivers full of fish, the sweet air, the healthy climate, and, above all – the gift of civil and religious freedom. Focusing on gratitude, the farmer observed, would help them feel better and would lead to greater happiness. The assembly took his advice, and every year since, Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the U.S. and Canada.
Franklin’s observations about the economy and the country’s mood in the 18th-century are relevant in today’s climate of shift and uncertainty: “I saw in the public papers of different states frequent complaints of hard times, deadness of trade, scarcity of money, etc. It was not my intention to assert or maintain that these complaints are entirely without foundation; there can be no country or nation existing in which there will not be some people so circumstanc’d as to find it hard to gain a livelihood, people who are not in the way of any profitable trade, and with whom money is scarce because they have nothing to give in exchange for it. And it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamour. But let us take a cool view of the general state of our affairs, and perhaps the prospect will appear less gloomy than has been imagined.”
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, 2010, the Chopra Center offers gratitude for our community of thousands of like-minded individuals who each day in countries throughout the planet are doing their best to be the change they wish to see in the world . . . who use their small numbers to make a great difference. May all sentient beings everywhere be well, happy, and in peace on this day and every day.
The Chopra Center Staff