In the Moment with Here and Now Health Services
I recently attended the Hay House U Live Toronto event, and had the good fortune to spend the day learning about Mediumship with James Van Praagh, who I admit, is probably one of my Master Teachers. One of the key points he made for me last Saturday was this – ‘Everyone who crosses your path, each and every day, is either a Teacher or a Student – and you are the same for them. We are all connected. It is always one way or the other.’ In the great mystery of life, I recognize this truth in my core. In fact, I reflected on this notion of Oneness in a blog I wrote last year around this time. The bottom line is that we are all here to grow and learn from each other, and from our experience of being human. What is good for our unique individual Self is good for the collective as a whole.
This Spring, I have been blessed with the gift of having many ‘teachers’ come into my life. I guess this means I am in a moment of learning. The information received has resulted in both validation and insight, and as I process these nuggets, after a long absence from my writing, I find myself in a place of wanting to share. I realize in so doing that I reverse my role of student by becoming a possible teacher as I put my observations out to you. So perhaps something here will be a learning moment for you.
So who are my teachers at this moment in time? James was one of them. I also attended a two-day training in mindfulness with colleagues, Gerry and Liz Levine; and perhaps most poignantly; just this week, I had the good fortune to witness a ‘live interview’ in my hometown with renowned journalist, Peter Mansbridge as part of our local ‘A Day in the Life’ Series at the Midland Cultural Centre. Without him likely knowing it, in my present moment of Spring 2018, he has become the greatest teacher of all.
‘Current’ vs. ‘Present’
I am being honest when I tell you that it’s a long time since I was interested in the news/current events. For a brief moment, I did study local politics as a youth and had an in-cling towards municipal level leadership when I was in that lovely stage of innocence in my life where I felt pushed by my desire to make a difference in the world. I mention this, because much of what Mr. Mansbridge reflected on as pivotal news sharing moments in his career linked itself directly to the political arena, and the way in which our ‘leaders’ create our history, as various milestones in democracy (or lack thereof) are marked. However, as a Social Worker, over time, I have learned about the potential implications on mental health from being over-exposed to news, especially if you watch it right before bed. Why is this? It’s because so much of what is reported is ‘negative’ in its impact on the psyche – it’s about violence, war, poverty, crime, and my perception is that it’s about fear. I don’t believe I am going out on a limb when I say it’s often about media propaganda. I have read studies over the course of my career linking the watching of news to increased rates of depression. I became disenchanted with the path of the reporter. And I acknowledge that my ‘inner judge voice’ impacted my perception of journalism as a career choice.
However, as I listened to this interview and he walked us through the pivotal moments of his life and the key choices that led him through an extremely successful 50 years in his profession, I was riveted and spellbound by his definition of ‘current events,’ and what being a journalist was all about for him. I learned about his commitment to the ‘truth;’ which he helped us all to see as a factual conveyance of the facts … without judgment, without assumptions, without interpretation. I felt the connection between his calm, grounded, detached explanation of journalism and what I know to be the underlying ‘truth’ of mindfulness practice. This ‘detached’ place of witness, of observer, is key when we choose present and mindful living. And it seems it is equally key, according to Mr. Mansbridge, when we choose to report the events of the day to the masses as a professional dedicated to the unbiased portrayal of news.
He admitted himself that much of news coverage today, in many forms, (but particularly on internet), veers markedly from this conveyance of ‘truth.’ For once a person puts their spin on a message, any message, it becomes ‘their truth,’ their version or account of a story, which is not particularly ‘the truth.’ Again, as a social worker I understand this. When couples come to see me for communication issues for example, I often explain to them how there are three versions of the story they are going to tell me – one from each of their perspectives, and one that lies somewhere in the middle. Thus, simply through the act of reflection, as we share our perception of an experience, we easily find there are many versions of the truth. This is a compelling thought, one worth some quiet thinking on many levels.
As humans, this is difficult for us. We want relationship, and we want connection. Everyone has a story, and stories when told with emotion create a reaction in us that in turn strengthens or weakens our attachment to that person. I am a relationship person too. I get it. But I am deeply disappointed and often adversely affected by the emotional tone of news telling that is a part of our media today. So I have steered clear. It doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on the in world, because you can get that in a few seconds of catch up every hour on the radio. I just choose not to dwell on detail upon detail, bombardment upon bombardment, with the likes of available 24 hour news stations, or for that matter, with the never ending news feed on social media.
But Mr. Mansbridge made me want to pay attention. He helped me understand that ‘The National,’ (a daily TV news report which he anchored for 30 years) is in fact it’s own mindful practice, its’ own detached and objective account of pertinent facts, its’ own opportunity to listen and learn with a lack of judgment about important and ‘current events.’ At least, that was his primary goal when he held anchor position there. He also helped me understand why current events are important to us, because what we witness in our lifetime becomes part of our story. He helped me to understand that paying attention from a point of reference of wanting to know the ‘truth’ about what is ‘current’ … is in fact ‘being mindful, being present.’
Always committed to my own learning process and equally so my meditation practice, today I find myself willing to let go of my own judgment about ‘news’ and to replace this word which houses negative connotations for me with the notion of ‘current events,’ a somewhat different angle on the same purposeful conveyance of information. This is something I could commit myself to observing. It is a surprise to me to even write down on paper the thought that I might consider watching the news from time to time, (with a discerning eye and ear of course). Does it mean I will ever tune in to the likes of 24 hour news channels – unlikely. Does it mean I will start watching the news before bed? Never. But I have watched ‘The National’ in the past, and I might be more inclined to do so now, with this new understanding and a shifted perspective.
Thus, I find myself coming full circle to my comment at the beginning of this post – to the moment when I realized that my Spring is about learning, and I remember another piece of what James Van Praagh shared in the workshop I attended with him. I asked him during a question period if after forty years in his profession as an author and a Medium, his perspective on life had changed or shifted. And he said, ‘yes, of course. I realize I am always learning, that I know little, and that the Universe is far more vast than we can begin to understand.’ It reminded me of what I often tell my own students – that remembering to put our student hat on from time to time is one of the great gifts of our earthly journey. We don’t need to know it all, we don’t want to know it all. If we keep an open mind to the possibility that there is something to learn each and every day of our life, the brain remains active and invested throughout life, and we will never grow old. If we can do this from the place of objective observer, be a Buddha in our experience, then our heart and soul won’t get taxed in being bogged down with emotional drama either. And that again, will help us from growing old.
In addition to that learning for me, I would like to take a moment to ask you to consider the possibility that All of us that are here at this particular time, on this particularly earthly journey, in this particular body for a reason. In every present moment of your day, the tiniest infinite bits and pieces of experience that fall into place for you matter. They really do. And so, on a larger macro level, the things going on around us, in our world, in our Universe, more than likely also matter. Thus … and here is my own ‘aha’ … What is ‘current’ and in the ‘news’ is in fact ‘present,’ is in fact a part of our ‘here and now’ experience, and so, it too matters. All that is happening, even when we can’t understand or appreciate it, even when it is in what seems to be a far away place … matters. If we breathe into that, stay calm, be mindful, and take whatever time is necessary to process our reactions, knowing that however we do that it will impact everyone we know and ripple further still through the cosmos as energy received by the greater collective, then perhaps our breath back out will more often be filled with acceptance, surrender, and grace. It might be worth taking that notion and playing with it as a mindful exercise. Especially in a moment of angst, if you can sit long enough to watch your self in it, you can mindfully, purposefully, intentionally choose what comes next. Yes, there is a choice. Remember that thoughts are energy, and energy follows thought. There is always a choice.
So thank you James Van Praagh, Liz and Gerry Levine, and Peter Mansbridge for being the unexpected teachers who came across my path this Spring; and for bringing me back, time and again, to present and mindful living. I am grateful to remember that I am a student on a path; and that as I dedicate myself to learning, I have the right to change my mind, to change my thoughts, to be present in what serves me for the day and this moment, without judgement of what I used to think or used to believe; and without knowing what thought may shift me next into the future that is yet to come.
What About You?
And what about you? How is your Spring unfolding? Are you primarily the ‘teacher’ or the ‘student’? What have you noticed about your own thoughts and beliefs that might be just a little bit different than they were yesterday because you found Your Self in a moment of learning. I open myself to the opportunity for you to share your reflections with me.
Many Blessings and best wishes for your continued mindfulness practice,
and may you find your moment, here and there, easily and gently, each and every day.
Cheryl Moore is a Social Worker and Holistic Health Practitioner with over 30 years experience in the healing professions. The purpose of her Blog is to create awareness around the benefits of Mindful Living. She uses a variety of topics and experiences from both her personal and professional life as a point of reflection for writing her posts. She is committed to sharing posts with you only when these pivotal moments of reflection occur for her, not necessarily on a ‘regular basis,’ and not simply because our human framework of time requires her to do so in order to meet someone else’s expectations. If you wish to subscribe and follow her posts, you can do that here.