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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Making Life Work Best

Intimacy with God and solidarity with all people are two aspects of dwelling in the present moment. We are brothers and sisters, not competitors or rivals.”
Henri Nouwen, Here and Now

It’s unfortunate that so many of us wait until we retire before we take the time to truly dwell in time -- in the current moment.

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, says that by paying “alert attention” to what is, you give something of yourself in return for something you value more.

Since I built a house on this island off an island -- the spit of sandbar known as Puerto Rico‘s “Little Sister Island” of Vieques – I’ve discovered that something about snorkeling transports me to the present moment. 

There are few experiences as meditative, contemplative and inspiriting as simply observing fish go about the mesmerizing kaleidoscope of their silent lives.

I’m not talking about the kind of snorkeling that has you dashing about from reef to reef and rock to rock in pursuit of the next sight, underwater camera in hand.

I’m talking about “hovering.” 

It’s a matter of finding a suitable spot where the mystical creatures of the southern seas are likely to congregate – and just floating there, as motionless as you can manage.

Like the cradled infant you once were, you are rocked by the waves and lullabied by the rhythmic sounds of your deep breathing. All else fades, and you dwell in the currency of the moment. If you do this, if you just linger -- fully there in expectant anticipation -- they come to you.

As accustomed as we are to conducting our human activities on a horizontal plane, there is something profound in viewing the subaqueous world by means of a downward glance, from above.

Melon Dash created an innovative self-discovery course in swimming and has taught it to more than 4,000 adult students. Here’s how she sketches the connection between the presence of snorkeling and applying its lessons to making life work best:

What makes snorkeling most magical – hovering -- is the same thing that makes other activities magical: being fully there. In snorkeling, if I stop not just my body but my self, and let moments unfold, out come the creatures and out pops what's already there that I had missed. 

Hovering as I snorkel is a metaphor for what makes the rest of life work best, too. 

One example that's happened to me countless times occurs when I'm arranging flights. There, "hovering" has become my M.O. The agent says, "You can't get there from here for that price. It'll cost you $2,000.” I say, “Let's think on this a bit. How about if I go through this city? How about if I leave at this time instead?" And by slowing everything down, suddenly possibilities emerge that otherwise wouldn't have. We figure out a way, and I get what I want -- what was "impossible" 15 minutes ago.

Slowing down is the key. As I say in my book, the only cause of problems is skipping steps. If we slow down, we can make sure we don't skip any. If we don't skip any, we have no problems. 

Melon Dash’s book is available at: http://www.conquerfear.com/Articles.asp?ID=305

In my next blog, “What’s Not in a Name.”

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