Walking through Central Park one morning, my usual, meditative state of mind—which emerges naturally when I walk through areas of trees—focused on a small act of kindness that someone had recently done for me. I touched back into the quality of friendliness the person seemed to radiate and I realized that the actual act of kindness offered was only part of what made the interaction meaningful. The other part was the quality of who this person is in the world, and that felt like the most important aspect of the experience.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with an acquaintance one afternoon in Starbuck’s, where she began to speak apologetically about how she didn’t feel like she ever did anything really important or meaningful in her life…
She felt this way because her job seemed to be pretty mundane to her, while she imagined that my life as a psychotherapist was automatically more meaningful than anything she could do. When I told her that my personal belief is that who we are is much, much more important than what we do, she had a hard time believing me.
Because I resonate with the idea of collective consciousness and oneness, in my way of experiencing the world we all contribute in every moment to the quality of experience of everyone else, simply by how we are, moment to moment. For sure, it matters what we do, in the sense that we behave in ways that respect others and aren’t destructive. That said, though, I find it much more meaningful to focus on how we “be” as we move through our daily lives than what we do for a living.
All of this got me to thinking about how important the quality of our moment-to-moment being is to the world around us. When we’re in a good frame of mind, we tend to radiate positive feelings and qualities into our environment, and what we radiate touches everyone around us. It’s the same when we’re in a not-so-good state of mind. Our moods and the qualities of our thoughts and feelings automatically radiate from us and become part of the collective environment within which the consciousness of all of us connects.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to pay attention even more than you may already do to the quality of energy, expression, and being you radiate into your world, regardless of what you do for a living, how you spend your time, or what activities you engage along the way. Whether you are with people or are alone, track the tone and quality of your thoughts, your emotions, and the state of your physical body. When focusing on your body, notice whether you are physically relaxed or tight and constricted. When you notice your thoughts, pay attention to the overall tone of them—are you focused on positive thoughts or negatives? When you pay attention to your emotional state, are you neutral, happy, or down, and how to you handle yourself when in the grip of intense or strongly negative feelings?
Knowing that everything that moves through you moves into your environment doesn’t mean becoming tense around having to be a certain way or worrying if you’re in a bad mood, in pain, or upset about something. Instead, this is an invitation to notice the quality of your being in a more general sense, and then choosing what you’d like to do about what you discover. I find that the practices I do to support living from my heart are very helpful when I get caught up in negative thinking or feeling, or when I’m physically tense. Breathing in and out through my heart is, for me, an important practice for shifting back into a more balanced and calm body-mind state of being. Whatever works best for you, perhaps you can engage this weekly practice to play with using it even more.
As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Instead, it’s an opportunity to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and discover ways to enhance your internal quality of life and thereby contribute a greater sense of well-being to our collective consciousness, as well.