Each moment you’re not fully embracing, your life is wasted and your aliveness is denied.
There are two ways this happens most often.
You’re grasping for something that’s already passed:
- A breath-taking view fuzzily reimagined through Facebook photos.
- The afterglow buzz of last week’s lovemaking.
- Adoration from the crowd as you rocked the stage last year.
Or, you’re waiting for something better in the future:
- Training your body in the hopes that one day, you’ll be able to do the things you really want to do.
- Obsessing about your finances, you imagine that someday you’ll really be free from worries to do what you really want.
- Planning and plotting everything you might say, wishing for the approval and love from others, so you can finally gain the love from yourself you deeply yearn for.
But grasping at the past is trying to preserve the wind. Chasing the future is like trying to bottle a mirage.
Both kill the aliveness available to you in this moment.
The aliveness you feel in this moment is vaster, richer and more satisfying than the most deliciously intoxicating dream. But only if you open fully.
Subliminal message: You can open now. Why not?
Why do we deny the only living thing?
The only living thing right now is the unfolding. This moment is the unfolding of the story — the labor of your life. Hopefully it’s a labor of love.
Everything else is a ghost. Yes, you can aim to achieve or be something or somewhere greater. But when you tensely wait to be alive until that something greater is reached, you perpetually cut yourself off from the only living thing — this moment.
Because once you reach that peak, you will inevitably see another, and another. The waiting never ends.
If you’re not opening fully now, you might as well be asleep.
The reason we deny our aliveness
Why do we live continually waiting to come alive? Like all animals, we are driven to avoid pain and seek pleasure.
But as humans we have the unique ability of comparing and contrasting. By comparing ourselves to others we can see that something better is out there, or be afraid of something bad that might happen.
So we resist what’s happening now, in favor of preparation or defense. We’re waiting for a myth: The Myth of Perfection.
But life is not perfect. Nothing is ever perfect in your mind. The only thing perfect is this moment.
If you’re waiting to live fully because you think that one day you’ll shape the perfect circumstances, you’ll be waiting until you’re dead.
Secret message bypassing your brain to your heart: Be alive in this moment, feel it, now.
You will never be done
“We have a right to our labor, but not to the fruits of our labor.” —Krishna
The other big trap is waiting to be done. Our productivity-driven culture encourages this search for completion that never arrives.
- Inbox Zero? Already slipping away.
- A Completed To Do List? Rarely achieved, temporarily inspiring, and short lived.
- A Clean House? Not for long.
Clinging to the state of done is a futile, life-killing pursuit. You will never be done, so stop waiting to fully relax and open to this moment.
Relaxing = Opening to the truth and aliveness of what is. It is immediate.
Waiting = Tension and closure to the aliveness of what is. It never ends.
Stop fucking waiting, before it’s too late
“We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
Wherever you are, in whatever circumstances you are in, you can embrace them fully and open fully.
This does not mean that you’ll stop wanting to change anything. You will always want to change things and grow. Always. Until you’re dead.
Whether things are total fucking chaos or completely divine, you have one choice:
Fully embrace this moment and your aliveness, or choke it off with your closure. The choice is yours.
Resisting never works
The real kicker is this:
The more you resist now, the further away whatever you’re trying to reach gets.
- Waiting to quit your job until you’ll be free? Then you’ll keep waiting until you express your true freedom in this moment.
- Wishing you had a better relationship, but always fighting the one you have? You’re gonna be on this merry-go-round a long time, darling.
- Saving up your energy and joy for vacation? You’ll be too busy worrying about when it’s ending when it comes around.
Plan, then open fully to the next moment
Does the mind, the visioning, strategizing, wishing part of us have its place? Absolutely, in a small percentage of our daily experience.
- Plan out your day. Then open fully now to the task at hand.
- Plot your project. Then forget the plan and take the next step with enthusiastic aliveness.
- Dreaming about being better at something? Great. Now with that vision in mind, give everything you have with your current capacity.
Use your mind. Compare. Contrast. Do not try to repress and resist your natural, ever-present planning tendencies.
That is just another trap.
Trying to kill your desire? (Hint: it doesn’t work)
Do not fall into the trap of trying to be “above planning” or “beyond seeking.” Do not try to kill your mind.
You will only create more resistance. Don’t do it!
Open to your planning. Embrace it. Appreciate and thank it for its wonderful job.
And then go back to this moment.
If you’re going to be neurotic about one thing, be neurotic about embracing right now.
Radical acceptance is the starting point of transformation
Whether you hate what you’re about to do, or are ridiculously excited; whether you’re anxious or giddy…
…start with aliveness.
What do I mean by that?
I mean, feel into this moment.
First you must… PAUSE.
Yes. I said pause.
What a crazy concept in our hyper-productive, constantly-hurried, never-stop, consume-more-energy-drinks-rather-than-resting culture, right?
Pausing does not waste time. Let me repeat that.
Pausing does not waste time.
Pausing opens you to the aliveness within your life, within your environment, within your heart.
When you pause and allow yourself to feel, you can open to what actually exists. When you are in relationship or aware of what is, you can affect what is. You can move with it, you can transform it.
If you’re in a hurry to get somewhere else, you weaken your ability to influence your life. Because you have no awareness of what is — no relationship to it — you have no ability to shift what is. You cannot creatively express yourself or do quality work when you’re trying to get somewhere else.
You will just create another situation where you’re trying to get somewhere else!
The price of waiting is your life
Do not stop working for something better. (In truth, you cannot stop.)
The true cost of preparing to live is your life.
How to awaken your true power in any moment
“What are we training for? It never arrives. We are always preparing and training. We want to do it! We want to move, you know?” —Ido Portal
The way to reconnect to your aliveness is not through your mind. Your mind is great at planning, strategizing and categorizing information.
If you live only in your mind, you cut yourself off from the ground of your being.
Your mind is a land of abstractions — it can be a fun, imaginative, or terrifying place — a useful tool, but not where you must live.
The body is your greatest source of feedback about whether you are living fully or not. Every day and in any moment you can practice opening into and feeling your body.
In fact, the very reason for the development of our large human brains is for complexity of movement (source). Movement of our bodies, the home that we live in.
If you are not in your body, you are disembodied, disassociated, dismembered — castrated from the neck down. You have no ability to affect or experience your life because you are simply not there.
Get back into the vehicle of your body, and connect to this moment, so you can start driving again and experience the pleasure of the road.
“If you are waiting for anything in order to live and love without holding back, then you suffer. Every moment is the most important moment of your life.” —David Deida
Start with your hands, human
Your hands are what make you different than all other animals. Our ability to manipulate objects and tools gives us technology.
But how often do you really feel your hands?
Spend a few moment right now feeling your hands. What do you notice there? Can you feel the pulse of blood pumping into them? Is there a tingling or vibrating sensation?
What gifts have your hands given you? What kind of feedback do you receive from them?
Starting with your hands is a good way to reconnect with your body, especially if you’ve been disconnected from it for a long time.
Embracing everything is the path to liberation
Whatever you feel in this moment, feel it fully.
When you feel pain in your body, open to it without resistance. When you feel pleasure, allow it without grasping.
Whatever you’re experiencing, feel it and say yes to it. That doesn’t mean that you tolerate things you don’t want, or become a victim. You simply accept what is, then move from that place of actually being in relationship to it.
The more you inhabit your body, the more embodied you become. The more embodied you become, the more you are open to the aliveness you experience as a fleshly being.
In your head, you learn. In your body, you live.
Stop waiting. Start living.
Jonothan, thanks for that, I found it amazing! Living in the moment is something I know I don’t do enough. My biggest issue is when it comes to relationships, I’m always either worried about what’s coming ahead and what I should say, or regretting things that I’ve said. To be able to accept what has happened, and focus in the moment is something I’ll be working on from now on.
Remember, no matter what has happened, you can always start again. But only if you choose to start now.
Kim Smith says
You’re right! This is an amazing post!
I’m sitting here, eating breakfast, getting ready to go to a job from which I want to be free. For the next eight hours, I’m going to shuffle papers and conduct audits… Ugh…
But I’ll be thinking of your words and how true they are. This reminds me of a line from an old, goofy movie called ‘Joe versus the Volcano,’ which goes like this:
My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.
To me, those people live in the moment.
I don’t want to be a Joe! Sorry, but I feel like Joe sometimes, going to work in a florescent-filled office, working for a florescent-filled boss….
Thank you for the inspiring post and have a great day!
You’re welcome Kim. I’m glad that it resonated with you.
“If you are not in your body, you are disembodied, disassociated, dismembered — castrated from the neck down. You have no ability to affect or experience your life because you are simply not there.” Awesome truth! Spending too much time in your mind is disorientating, disempowering and a source of great unhappiness. Time living, interacting, participating in life, in the wonderful things available to you in this world is time amazingly well spent. The wonderful thing about full engagement with the present moment is that it actuallz leads to a more productive mind and more creativity, not less.
Wonderful Jonathan, well said!
Yep. That’s the secret. :)
That was like a breath of fresh air.
Mead,thank you for the reminder.
Glad it resonated with you Jon.
A post straight from your heart, Jonathan. I could hear you speaking the words as I read them!
I need to keep reminding myself to accept what is and move on.
Planning and then opening fully to the next moment is a thought I had never considered. Now that I think about it, that’s how I create some of my best work. Brilliantly put into words. Thank you.
Glad that you could feel it Debashish. Now, go put it to work!
Thank you for this Jonathan. I’ve been so caught up in my personal financial circumstance and so scared of what’s going to happen that I’ve forgotten that I am still alive and living in this moment. This post is just the reminder that I needed to bring me back to the now.
Yay. Glad that it could be a reminder for you Tiffany.
Lois Nason says
OMFG!!! I felt my hands!!!! No joke, Johnathon. You are powerful, your words are fucking powerful. I have been in that abyss for…e v e r. I keep bumping into my ego and thinking things will change. It’s not changing. It hasn’t changed. I’ve been teetering on the edge of life for a while. I keep reading your posts and having things happen in my life that are pointing me to the edge. The edge of life. I choose life. I choose happiness. I choose love for everyone and everything. I choose to be alive! Much love and happiness!
That’s the way life is supposed to be. Keep that feeling going. Keep feeling and embracing everything. Whenever you get distracted or off track, just come back to now.
Jeff Goins says
I like this a whole lot. Waiting isn’t living.
really great insights! being alive to the present is being present to the very fact of our being. it’s like sitting with the feeling of our common sense of existence. we are each individual expressions of consciousness but we are also all humans who share a common expression to embrace each moment with every fiber of our being. have you been reading any non dual or advaita writers lately? Your post really captures the essence of that style of practice. thank you.
*stands up and claps LOUDLY*
Maria Mar says
Oh, yeeeesssss! I can feel you. I am moved by your passion. Your soul touches mine. Your words are alive and I feel their movement in your body. There’s a mayan word: In ‘la ‘kesh. It means: “you are my other self. I am your other self. We are one.” As I was reading my body responded to your body, my soul to your soul. I call that place where our body connects us to soul the BodySoul. It is our Personal Compass to our truth. I don’t know if this is your “best” post, as all of your posts rock. But I thank you for moving me back into my BodySoul to enjoy NOW.
Perfection is a myth propagated by those that have never done anything. Forget about achieving perfection. Forget about having a blog as good as Jonathan’s. Stop comparing yourself to others. They are just a reflection of your internal knowing’ness that you are already successful. It is just a question of getting out of your own way and allowing your success to seep through the cracks of your imperfection, day by day.
“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is KING” – anonymous.
Dustin Lee says
Great post. I’m so guilty of this. In fact, the past few months I feel like I do this ALL the time. I’m always waiting till something is done or I’m better in some way.
Thanks for this reminder. I’m going to restart tonight : )
hey. love your work. inspiring. a funny observation: I can’t access your site from my work computer. we have strict blue coat filtering and it says your site isn’t categorized correctly or some nonsense. of course it isn’t… I always say to myself when I click from work….of course it isn’t.
keep up the inspiration.
Jane Manthorpe says
Thank you Jonathan, a wonderful post that has brought me back to the present moment and made me realise that I have been taking things for granted lately. Even though I thought I was being grateful for the present moment by saying so, but I did not feel it within my body. I had lost touch with my body.
Feeling the gratitude is a must to be in the present moment, actually feeling the warm feeling of really appreciating where you are now, right in the moment and let it sink in and connect within.
Lisa-Marie Cabrelli says
Love this! Plan… and then be fully open to the task at hand. As a traveller (and a person running businesses while traveling) I am a constant planner. It took me a while to learn that if you get sucked in to the planning you miss the experiencing. Not much point planning to travel if the traveling is spent planning. Good reminder.
This is your life, and its ending one minute at a time :D