A few years ago, through the generosity of the Adrienne Kohn Memorial Fund, for Spirituality and Spiritual Practice, the Adat Shalom community was fortunate to have Sylvia Boorstein as a guest teacher. She had much wisdom to offer, but one phrase she shared with us, has stayed with me. Periodically it has echoed in my mind; “May I meet this moment fully, may I meet it as a friend”.
The approach of the High Holidays brings this phrase to mind again. In the spirit of the New Year, it offers the possibility of helping me “hit the mark more closely” in how I live my life. So I have begun exploring the meaning of her advice.
First, what does it mean to “meet this moment fully”? How might it change how I live the moments in each day?
“Meeting this moment fully,” calls me to be totally present, completely aware of where I am, and focusing 100% on what I am doing. It is the total opposite of multi-tasking, such as listening to a lecture on zoom while checking my e-mail, of which I have become increasingly guilty.
I have, however, been trying it out, and it is not easy. I have not yet mastered being present for boring chores like loading the dishwasher, or putting groceries away. That’s when I listen to the radio. On the other hand, I’ve stopped listening to podcasts while exercising or walking, and have found the experience of “being there” qualitatively richer. I really see the flower arrangements in front yards and the architectural nuances on the houses I pass on my walks. I hope that little by little I can expand these moments of presence.
What does it mean to meet this moment “as a friend”. I am filled with happy anticipatory feelings, when I think of meeting a friend. I feel joyful and safe. But how do I view as a friend the fearful and anxiety-provoking moments? Responding to a challenge from a co-worker or family member, or admitting an egregious error? That’s when my heart beats quickly, my saliva dries up, and my chest constricts. Those situations don’t feel friendly at all, and therein lies the challenge.
To view these threatening, painful, destabilizing moments as a friend takes resetting the mind, breathing deeply and trying to acquire a sense of calm and acceptance of what will be. That is truly difficult. But if (or when) I could do that, I would meet those threatening moments with equanimity, generosity, and kindness to myself, and others. What a difference that would make, for me and the people I am with.
Many years ago, I read the following in a book preface: “My life has been full of all kinds of wonderful experiences. Too bad I wasn’t there for most of them.”
That must be the opposite of meeting moments fully and as a friend.