Looking at the Big Picture: Part 2

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Looking again at the Big Picture has been one of the most important lessons I have learned in life.    I have been contemplating on this concept in more depth.

When we have a problem, something that worries us, we tend to focus on that problem obsessively.  We don’t think about anything else except what worries us.   And while we continue to focus on this obsessive “problem”, we tend to miss everything else.  The rest of our lives which we miss is what I consider the Big Picture.

For example, I may start worrying about the car that I have in the shop under repair.  I would start worrying about how expensive it can be to repair it.  I can start obsessing about how I would go places without my car.  So I can go on and on focusing on the situation that I have chosen to identify as a problem.   But if I choose to Look at the Big Picture, I consider other situations that would give me a different perspective and therefore a new feeling.  I can choose to think about the good health I still have.  I can think about the job I still have.  I can think about the possibility of learning to catch the city bus or using a taxi.  I can so thinks of so many other scenarios that will diminish the stress of having my car in the shop.

Consider also how small our planet is compared to the rest of the universe.  When we think only about our community, our neighbor , or even our personal lives, we can easily become preoccupied with self righteousness and anxiety.  We can get easily upset when things don’t go our way and start feeling angry, anxious, or afraid.   But when we broaden our perspective to include the universe around us, we begin to see how miniature our worries are, and how small we really are.  Our “rights” become more insignificant.  The whole universe surrounds us and continues to function without caring about our individual preoccupations .  planet

When we also consider how we perceive ourselves individually and worry about our mortality , our fears can be alleviated by recognizing that we all experience the same fate of death and that we are simply in a journey to something bigger than our limited lives .

When we focus on our faults and shortcomings, we tend to put ourselves down. We tend to punish ourselves with rituals and traditions in an attempt to make things better. But again, when we look at the bigger picture , at the fact that we are all imperfect beings, and we all live on the same planet with almost identical needs, we can then begin to forgive ourselves (and others) and commune better with others.   We can begin to accept ourselves with our limitations.  We can better see the commonality among us.

So the next time you feel stressed, angry, or afraid, pay attention to what is it that you are thinking about.  What is it that you are looking at?  Are you looking at your individual preferences and desires?  Are you thinking only about your individual agenda?   And if so, consider looking instead at the Big Picture. 

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Peace versus Happiness

There is a difference between being alert and conscious of your surrounding, and being distracted by thoughts, doubts, and illusions.  There is a great analogy I want to use from one of the famous stories from the Bible. In the Gospels, there is a story about Jesus walking on water while his disciples spot him from a boat.  His closest disciple, Peter, asks Jesus if Peter could approach  him by also walking on water.

Now, at this moment, did Jesus tell him: “No, no, no! Don’t do that! You will drown!” ? Or did Jesus say : “Are  you sure you want to come and walk on water?” ?

No, Jesus did not say anything like that.  How did Jesus respond? He said one simple word: “Come!”

So Peter got off the boat and started walking towards Jesus… on water.  How did he do this? By focusing on Jesus.  Again, by focusing on Jesus.  And what does that mean?

This is not a religious post preaching about following Jesus.  Bare with me for a moment. If you haven’t stopped reading so far, you are about to find out what this post is really about. …

There are many stories and teaching inside and outside of the Bible that can be used to describe what I am talking about here.  Focusing on Jesus was all Peter needed to do to remain calm,  stable and walking forward.  In our current lives, we would also need to focus and be aware of the Present moment, in order to remain calm and stable.  But as soon as Peter looked down and was “distracted” by the waters and his current circumstance, he began to feel fear, panic, and began to sank.  Jesus had to then reach down and rescue Peter from his “distraction.”

It is easy to lose tract of the present moment by paying attention to our thoughts, doubts and illusions.  But remaining conscious and aware of our surroundings will bring us peace and joy.  Not happiness.

Being happy depends on circumstances.

Being at peace does not.

 

Death and Sickness everywhere

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In my  personal life, I have heard and seen people getting sick and dying … Mainly because of cancer. These are the moments in life where I pause and reflect more about this present existence .
What are we? What purpose brought us to this existence ? Is our awareness of this thing we call life accurate? What awareness will we have , if any, after our bodies die?
No wonder people tend to believe in the afterlife.. To give us hope about this mysterious state of being.

Life goes on, but what exactly is this life? We hear all the time that this famous person and that other person died.  But what does it mean for “me” to die ?  It happens everywhere, and to everybody.  Yet we rarely think about it happening to us.

What would it be like ?  I may find out when my heart stops beating.   Or I may not even realize I have died… Like when I fall asleep and don’t realize it until I wake up the next morning . I don’t know.

But they know. Those who have passed away know.

I shall experience it too.

The Beauty of the Present Moment

Every thought , every idea we have and memories, are not in the present moment.  We cannot experience the present moment if we are constantly thinking about other things, ideas … The only thing we can know for sure… what we can be certain of is what we are experiencing right now.

Everything else is an illusion .   A fantasy.  A fabrication of the mind.  Even if our thoughts and ideas seem like they are tangible and sometimes objective, the reality is that that they are simply subjective ideas.  Which can then create anxiety, sadness, and resentments.

Not all thoughts trigger anxiety and sadness; but being in the present moment never triggers these feelings.  Being in the present moment can only bring peace.

We can make ourselves feel peace and tranquility by simply being in the present.  Only with patience and practice can this be achieved.  As soon as we allow ourselves to focus on our thoughts, then we are prone to uncomfortable feelings.  We may start feeling insecure.  Sad.  Angry.  Anxious.

Focusing back in the present… the here and now, will bring contentment… and peace.

That’s the beauty of the Present Moment.

 

A New Perspective to be Mindful

Have you noticed that, when you visit a particular setting for the first time, either a new town, a new house, or a new park, that the first impression is always different than the impression you have on the same place a few minutes later?

I think this happens because our expectations increase once we become more familiarized with the environment.   And the more expectations we have, the more we are distracted by our thoughts.  But when we are  faced with a new environment, we are more likely to stop thinking and observe more.  Which leads to mindfulness.

I don’t know about you, but I  realized that when I make the attempt to perceive a familiar environment as a new and unfamiliar setting , I am inclined to doing mindfulness.  I discovered this when I visit a new setting.  Somehow it changes my perspective the more I become familiar with it.  When visiting a new place, there are less expectations and, therefore, less thinking.  There is more observation and attention to details.  There is more accepting.   And time seems to slow down.

When we are more familiarized with the same place, our expectations increase, and so does our thinking .  There is less observation and less attention to details.  Time will then seem to go faster.

When I try to focus on the details of my surroundings, such as the street and the trees, and try to perceive it as a new experience  , time will seem to slow down .  It is the same as living in the here and now.  Being more mindful.

When it is evening, I try to imagine it being morning.

Or when it is windy and rainy outside, I perceive it as being in a tropical island (which I am not but I wish I were.)

It is almost as if I can change the perception of my surroundings in order to make it soothing.

And be more mindful.

 

Never  Mindful 

I have never been completely mindful. Most of my life I have identified with my thoughts, perceptions, and assumptions.  This blog is mainly about my ever ongoing  journey into a more mindful lifestyle.

As I write this post, I am waiting in a car shop for my van’s tire to be repaired.  I can try to be mindful , but it is hard to do with a TV blasting in front of me, cars driving by the window , and hundreds of thoughts about all the things going on in my life, including work , the bills, appointments for my child, etc. It is almost an endless ordeal when I try to quiet down my mind.  It is almost like trying to stop water from falling from a waterfall .  It is also difficult to take deep breaths and relax my muscles when most of what I do is tense up and take shallow breaths.

But I still recognize the importance of managing my time wisely and continue to try to do mindfulness .

Two weeks ago, I went with my family to pick up strawberries at a local farm . First I was hesitant about it.  But while I walked on he farm and picked up fresh strawberries , I began to appreciate this simple yet important task.  I was being mindful .  My family and I enjoyed it.

I have also been able to be mindful whenever I draw.  It is relaxing and enjoyable .  I try to be aware of my surrounding whenever I see myself having to wait for something.  It is an opportunity to be in the here and now.

So even though I have not been completely and fully mindful, I plan to continue to be more aware of the present moment. To be gradually more mindful.

Looking at the BIG picture

Trying to look at the big picture is a skill that I learned a while back.  It is simply trying to see everything in a different perspective and considering all the possibilities.

The other night I was looking up at the clear sky… and contemplated on all the stars…. and thought about the inmense space and distance between us and the other stars.   And the distance between each star.  We are like a grain of sand in the middle of an ocean.

When I also look at the sky in the middle of the day, I contemplate on the clouds and the birds, and remind myself of how futile it is to worry so much about trivial things in this life.   We can simply be thankful for the air that we breath, the sun that gives us light, the clouds that brings us rain, and all the gifts that nature indiscriminatorily  and graciously brings to us on a daily basis.

So when I start focusing on small stuff, such as when is the next payment for my insurance due, or why is that other person treating me  unfairly, or what would be the next time I can take a vacation; it would benefit me instead to look at the big picture and consider the fact that I am in the middle of a humongous vacuum and we are all pretty much on the same boat.

It also helps alleviate anxiety and stress…. Significantly.

How else can we look at the Big Picture?