Do you find it difficult to stay present in the midst of life? Here’s a completely new approach.
Like many who are on a spiritual journey I have sought wisdom from teachers and ancient traditions. I have used (and still do) many of the recommended approaches to living in the now like ‘focussing on the breath,’ ‘sensing the body’ and ‘accepting what is’ and whilst these practices are undeniably powerful, as soon as the world gets its hands on me, dealing with a struggling family member, workplace challenges, or just the repetition of daily life, these wonderful practices flounder.
The time-honoured methods I have learned are simple, but they are not easy to maintain, particularly when I am lost in the middle of difficult emotions or the busyness of a modern lifestyle. It can feel like being in a sandstorm. There is so much going on that it seems impossible to find my way out. And even though I know that staying present is the answer, I simply don’t know how, and if I am really honest, I sometimes forget this in the middle of the chaos. I lose touch with myself and my ability to be in the moment. My well programmed behaviours and responses take over and it seems to me that whilst our hearts longs to awaken, when real life enters, our habits are loyal to our conditioned ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
I am ready to accept that this may well be because I have not practiced enough yet, but I am where I am, there is no use in me pretending that I am somewhere else or that what I am doing is working for me all the time and I suspect many others are where I am too,
struggling to live life and stay in the now and fully present.
Some time ago I sensed that what I needed was something different, something that honours and incorporates these traditional approaches but fits with the way I actually live my life. I’m not in a position to renounce the world in order to dedicate my life to practice, nor do I want to. I want to be involved, active and participating and whilst I am dedicated to my chosen practice, I also want to feel present in the midst of my complex life. I want to enjoy what Joseph Campbell calls ‘the rapture of being alive’ and I needed something that was more tangible, something that I could find in the middle of that sandstorm, that could act as an anchor, a reminder that will focus my awareness and lead me back home.
Right from the start I felt it had to be something different; something visible, and easily accessible. Something physical that I could carry around with me on my phone or tablet and put up on my wall at home and in the office as a constant reminder that I could glance at.
Four years later My Map to Freedom was born.
My Map to Freedom is a physical map (well there are nine of them to be precise.) It is something you can hold, look at, cry over, spill wine on, glance at. Sometimes its job is to act as a reminder of who you really are, your true self; sometimes it will guide you through the hurricane of modern life back to your home. It will show you your conditioned habits, responses and behaviours, your patterns of closure and defensiveness. It will enable you to listen to your inner wisdom and get answers when life is tough, and it will assist you in hearing the music of your own heart rather than the fleeting whisper of the ego. And it will always remind you that you are a soul living a human life.
The map is not pretending to fully describe the deep mystery and the rich wealth of the human condition. Nor is it claiming to be a complete answer to everything. The map is not a complex set of instructions for life and even though the map uses the Enneagram as a basis for its content it is not in itself intended to be a system, a teaching or a philosophy. Even though my book talks about it being a practice, this is not intended to add to the musts and shoulds in your life.
Simply put, the map is a visual signpost through which you can effortlessly recognise our shared human condition and remember who you were before the world got its hands on you. In that moment of remembering you can rest in who you really are and relax into the present moment.
So, if there are times when your current practices are proving fragile in the face of modern life or you don’t yet have a practice perhaps the simplicity of being able to glance at a map might just be what you have been looking for.
Click here to find your very own map to freedom, download a free copy and discover how it can help you to stay present in the midst of life?