Samsara – The Art of Presence

A few days ago I received a wonderful gift from a few of my friends; an invitation to the Boulder Theater to watch the documentary Samsara. I stepped into the theater unaware that I was about to be transported around the world to view some of the most beautiful, ugly, inspiring and maddening happenings that occur every day.

There was trash, destruction, guns, factory farms, and slums. Scantily clad women and those draped in  burkas. Mosques, cathedrals, stupas and prayers. Extreme precision and awareness, beauty and art. Death, birth, destruction and creation. Ignorance. Bliss

I felt it all. Smiles, tears, joy and rage ran through my being for the duration of the documentary. I walked out of the theater knowing that I had just witnessed a wonderful piece of work that will change my day to day existence.

With the many topics Samsara brought awareness to, one in particular has been held in my memory these past days. It’s an intimate scene involving monks in the process of creating a sand mandala.

With extreme patience, awareness and complete presence, the monks used a cone shaped sand dispenser with a rubbing stick to gently vibrate the sand in a steady stream on to the work space. With precision the sand was placed. Perfection.

In our Western society it seems that everyone moves at a pace of fast, faster or speed of light.  Its become apparent that the ability to remain focused and in the moment has faded. Who and what is to blame remains speculative. The point is, it’s time to draw awareness to the  art of being present… in everything we do.

We’re all guilty of  not being present. Have you texted on the phone while driving or dining with friends? Have you failed a homework project or work report in order to watch a movie? Have you ever broken a bone playing a sport because you became distracted? Or put a cup of bleach in with your colored laundry? It’s a familiar experience for the majority of our society. But the true gift is that we’re all capable of being fully present. Remember the day you won the gold trophy in diving, painted your best masterpiece,  had the best sex ever, or met the most interesting person in line at the grocery store. In my findings, most experiences of this nature are never reflected on with regret or negativity.

Presence is a lesson that has been a learning process for a few years in my life; making progress with each passing season. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the ability to recognize when the universe sends me wake up calls before my lack of presence becomes detrimental to others. For me, it’s checking in being present while doing the little things; setting a table, folding laundry, talking to the grocery clerk and of most personal importance, being in the company of people and not living on my phone. When I focus on being fully present I find a certain beauty  joins the experience. Along side of having closer relationships to those around me, giving more effective massage, and crafting beautiful art, I also find myself more safe, living in a clean, organized home and being more efficient and therefore productive. Above all else, my appreciation has grown, for all things large and small.

But alas, I am only human and being present becomes lost and chaos ensues until the cycle begins anew. Carry with you the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” Take note when you loose presence in your daily  happenings; it will happen often and the simple act of drawing awareness to it will bring you back to the moment.  Make a conscious effort to engage in one act of complete presence every day. It could be petting your cat for ten minutes, listening to your child’s detailed account  of their day at school, meditating, rock climbing, playing the guitar and more. It’s time to slow down and walk, to stop and smell the roses and maybe even watch the fog roll in over the mountain tops. Enjoy!

All photos from the movie Samsara.


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