Ideas for Zen Living: 12 Presence Presents

Zen Liv­ing: When you’re a Zen Guy like me, you’re con­stant­ly think­ing about, (and try­ing to enact) being present. The Hol­i­day Sea­son is rife with “things” we can dis­tract our­selves with.

I decid­ed to send you a list of alter­na­tive ways of being, in the hopes that shift­ing gears might help you to deal with life more elegantly. 

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The 2nd. edition of This Endless Moment has 100 plus more pages of insights and helps.

You’ll dis­cov­er the resources you need for liv­ing a cen­tered, ful­filled, and aware life.

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Appreciate Your Body’s Wisdom

It’s time to reclaim the 95% of your­self that you min­i­mize and dis­par­age – your body. Admit it, you’re liv­ing as a talk­ing head, and haul­ing the rest of you around because you can’t fig­ure out what else to do with your body.

I know a lot of peo­ple who are in absolute denial about their bod­ies, and what their bod­ies want/need. I look and see tight­ness, dis­com­fort, pain. I ask, “What’s up?” and I get this ver­i­ta­ble spew of sto­ries from the past and the future.

It’s all this weird exter­nal stuff that has noth­ing at all to do with what is going on right now.

I sug­gest a bit of breath­work, a bit of focus below the neck. Then the sighs and tears and anger and sad­ness and the horni­ness for life and for release starts creep­ing to the sur­face. Often the up-flow of emo­tions caus­es a pan­icky retreat back into their heads.

If the per­son can hold to the feel­ing, and be present in their body, there is an easy flow of emo­tion and a decid­ed less­en­ing of the dra­ma they are creating. 

But, boy is it hard to per­suade peo­ple to go there.

In fact, I’ve pret­ty much giv­en up on try­ing. I have tak­en to invit­ing pres­ence through breath and then just sit­ting there to see what hap­pens next.

Idea for Zen Living: Now is the time to commit to listening to the wisdom of your body. Stop running from yourself – running up into your head, where you lie to yourself and create more dysfunctional stories. Commit to dealing deeply and fully with your body. You’ll be glad you did.

Live Honestly

The idea of liv­ing hon­est­ly is one of the hard­est “sells.” Peo­ple have a lot of excus­es for not being hon­est, either with oth­ers or with themselves. 

  • Some actu­al­ly resent the whole con­cept – they fig­ure “adults have a right to pri­va­cy.” Hav­ing secrets is seen as a priv­i­lege of being an adult. 
  • Oth­ers think that if they are hon­est about who they are and what they are about, oth­ers will run scream­ing from the room. 
  • Oth­ers get a charge out of pulling the wool over oth­ers’ eyes.

Living Honestly entails self-discovery, followed by self-reflection, followed by self-revelation.

This process is emphat­i­cal­ly not about dis­cov­er­ing your faults and then stuff­ing them down oth­er’s throats. Hon­est Liv­ing is all about dig­ging in deeply, reveal­ing (to self and oth­ers) the depths of your­self, and emphat­i­cal­ly it’s about stop­ping lying to your­self about your inabil­i­ty to make bet­ter choices.

Idea for Zen Living: A noble goal is to commit to telling the truth, gently, yet clearly — about yourself. (It’s not about blasting others about what you perceive as their truth – “You are such a jerk. You need to get over yourself.” That’s not your job! Your job is to learn about the depth and height of yourself, and to bring that person into full expression in the world. It is a noble path.

Embrace Movement

Move­ment and change is our only real­i­ty. You can­not cling, for even one moment, to any­thing – a per­son, an expe­ri­ence, even a sin­gle breath. You can­not cling to your life – it is pass­ing, and soon you will no longer be.

Move­ment and the pas­sage of time are intrin­si­cal­ly linked. 

Once you see this, you will rec­og­nize that the pain and dra­ma of our lives have noth­ing to do with what is hap­pen­ing right now. All of that pain comes from our fan­tasies that what is hap­pen­ing right now ought to be dif­fer­ent.

As we have that thought, our brains get involved, and soon we are just sit­ting there, immo­bile, telling our­selves sto­ries of past and/or future.

The way out is active par­tic­i­pa­tion in the present moment, empha­sis on active. You incar­nat­ed (lit­er­al­ly “came into flesh – carne”) to have a body, (i.e. to feel and to get around) and bod­ies need air­ing out, danc­ing, jump­ing, stretch­ing and gen­er­al­ly need to be in con­tact with oth­er warm bodies. 

So, what are you doing to be present and in your body?

Idea for Zen Living: The movement of life is the presence of life. In this flow, I am alive and aware. And that, my friends, is as good as it gets! Commit to a rigorous physical program of movement, and then be present with what your incarnation feels like.

Commit Wholeheartedly

Here’s a big­gie. Oh, for a whole­heart­ed com­mit­ment to anything!

Most peo­ple dick around and chip away at life, as opposed to tack­ling the thing whole­heart­ed­ly and whole-headedly. 

This is a big­gie – a major flaw in the path we are all on is doing only enough to mit­i­gate pain, as opposed to push­ing through the pain to see what lies beyond it.

Rela­tion­ships suf­fer from seek­ing “no pain.” Peo­ple think, “No pain, no prob­lem.” But every­thing always changes – and then the rela­tion­ship goes south – because only the “min­i­mal effort to main­tain the sta­tus quo” had been applied.

My think­ing is that whole­heart­ed com­mit­ment is nec­es­sary for a ful­filled and ful­fill­ing life. Dab­bling, play­ing-at-life, flit­ting about while time pass­es and life goes by, seems to me the ulti­mate in wast­ing one’s life.

Idea for Zen Living: Yet, many are the excuses. And you are never any better than your best excuse. Dear hearts, get over it! Commit to something and make it happen. You do not have forever.

Put Yourself First

No, it’s not self­ish to put your­self first. I’m not talk­ing about steam-rolling over oth­ers. I’m talk­ing about tak­ing your self, your life, and your path with the utmost seriousness.

Most peo­ple ded­i­cate their lives to oth­ersand not in a good way. Most engage in an, “If I treat them well, they’ll treat me well” game that nev­er plays out. Why?

When you make it your mis­sion to live for anoth­er, all you cre­ate it the expec­ta­tion that you will do this for­ev­er. It does not engen­der reci­procity. It engen­ders depen­dence and expec­ta­tions – demands – for more and bet­ter from you.

Any one who accus­es you of self­ish­ness is say­ing, “Hey! Wait a minute! You are sup­posed to put me first! How dare you think of your­self and not of me?” In oth­er words, they are doing (being self­ish) what they are accus­ing you of!

The only way your life will ever be oth­er than it is, is when you do some­thing dif­fer­ent­ly. Peri­od. Any­thing else is a fluke. 

Idea for Zen Living: You can’t change your life, your prospects, your relationships, your body, without changing something – wishing does not make it happen.
When is the right time for you???
Right now, of course!!

Create More Passion

Paint­ing by Wayne C. Allen

Pas­sion is the burn­ing, inter­nal fire of pur­pose. Pas­sion is a path of self-devel­op­ment – this fire is what dri­ves us to go deep­er – to change. Pas­sion is all about desire focused on a goal and in a direction.

Oth­er stuff (peo­ple, places, things) does not cre­ate pas­sion in us. Pas­sion is an inside job. This is why we can be pas­sion­ate about some­one or some thing at one point, and not pas­sion­ate in the next breath.

Pas­sion feels hot and char­gy. Thus, it is a prime mover and moti­va­tor – so long as we do not attach to or get hooked on the feel­ing. If we do, we become pas­sion junkies, and the only goal is “more passion.”

The form of pas­sion that is help­ful is pas­sion­ate direc­tion. For enlight­en­ment. For a noble goal or cause. For more depth of self-know­ing and for more depth in relationship.

This kind of pas­sion­ate act­ing is actu­al­ly a path.

Create some passion for yourself. Don’t put it off. Passion is the power that primes the pump of life!

Demystify Sex

If you’ve read my book, This End­less Moment, you’ll know I take a non-seri­ous tack with mat­ters sex­u­al and sen­su­al. I wrote:

he rea­son sex con­tin­ues to be con­sid­ered some kind of mark­er in rela­tion­ships is sex­u­al embar­rass­ment and imma­tu­ri­ty. Sex is giv­en great mean­ing because we are afraid to take it casu­al­ly.
It’s a hard thing to admit out loud to being sexual.

Quan­tum physics teach­es us that the uni­verse is ener­gy and poten­tial – in oth­er words, stuff is sim­ply in flow and flux, and then is observed and comes into being. This is the state of the entire­ty of existence. 

For exam­ple, the old Zen-ish question,

If a tree falls in the for­est, and no one is there, does it make a sound?”

The answer is sim­ple: It depends.

There is ener­gy that is cre­at­ed by the fall – a flow­ing out­ward of ener­gy. It only becomes a “sound,” how­ev­er, if there is an “ear” to hear it, AND a mind to inter­pret it.

Sound becomes some­thing “real” when it is inter­pret­ed by the brain of the hearer.

This explains why you under­stand what you said one way, and the per­son hear­ing the same words inter­prets it anoth­er way.

Everything, then, is dependent upon the interpretation of the observer.

Sex becomes a fas­ci­nat­ing and pas­sion­ate learn­ing ener­gy when we inter­pret it that way. That’s the “take” of Tantra and Kun­dali­ni work. The ener­gy (which is “just ener­gy,”) can be direct­ed, turn­ing it into a pow­er­ful force for our own awak­en­ing. Or, it can be made spe­cial, dragged out occa­sion­al­ly, and treat­ed with embarrassment.

Idea for Zen Living: Find someone to explore your sexual energy with. Learn how to “make it work for you.” Dedicate yourself to breaking open the blocks in your body. After all, you’re in your body for a reason!

Change Your Story

Here’s a ques­tion: “And how is end­less­ly repeat­ing a sto­ry you hate help­ing you to change how you are in the world?”

I spend a lot of time ask­ing that ques­tion – I ask oth­ers, and I ask myself.

I have a cou­ple of sto­ries about being un-appre­ci­at­ed that I’ve been haul­ing out and flog­ging myself with since, well, for­ev­er. I’ve have reached the place where I now laugh at myself and give myself a shake. I cer­tain­ly do not enact this sto­ry anymore.


Because the sto­ry does not work!

Peo­ple argue with me on this one. “But…but… how can I just change my sto­ry? My sto­ry is right! I’m so hard done by! I need to get every­one on the plan­et to admit how bad­ly they are treat­ing me! How can I heal myself when I know I’m powerless?”

Well, yikes.

Noth­ing means any­thing until you give it mean­ing. You don’t like the way your life is going, change your story.

Idea for Zen Living: Nothing will move you further along the path than this simple truth – your life is exactly and precisely the story you are telling yourself.

Get this, and then do something about it!

Be a Blessing

We are quite small in the face of the ele­gance of the uni­verse. In the face of that, it might be sise to get over our­selves (and our busy­ness,) long enough to “be a blessing.”

In oth­er words, to change your sto­ry from one long, pathet­ic whine,
and to get on with mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the world.

As I get old­er, time seems much more com­pressed. Six months flash­es by in an instant. Dar­bel­la and I have been togeth­er sinece 1983. Where did the days, the weeks, the months, the years, go?

What have I accomplished?

I ask myself that ques­tion with com­pas­sion and with grace.

Have I been of use — have I been a blessing?

Idea for Zen Living: You were born for a reason, never doubt it. So, what are you waiting for? The perfect moment? Permission?

How about right now? Be a blessing.

Hone your Loving

Lov­ing (an action, as opposed to “love,” which does­n’t exist) requires keen­ness and sharp­ness and accu­ra­cy, just like a knife does.

Some­times love is a gen­tle nudge, like the last point (he says with a grin…) Lov­ing is nev­er about doing things that fly in the face of who you are. Lov­ing is only pos­si­ble when you are present, con­nect­ed, self-respon­si­ble, and curious.

  • Pres­ence means I am here, in this moment, and nowhere else. Not wool-gath­er­ing, plan­ning my next speech, distracted.
  • Con­nect­ed is an emo­tion­al sense of res­o­nance. It’s all ener­gy any­way, so con­nec­tion is allow­ing myself to open enough to actu­al­ly feel the vibra­tional tone of another.
  • Self-respon­si­ble peo­ple do not blame oth­ers, sit­u­a­tions, or them­selves. They are “sim­ply present,” and from their pres­ence respond from their core to the sit­u­a­tions they meet. Self-respon­si­bil­i­ty is all about work­ing from my cen­tre out­ward, with a clear heart and focused mind.
  • Curios­i­ty is not manip­u­la­tive. It’s an acknowl­edge­ment that what­ev­er is going on in your world is yours, and it, by def­i­n­i­tion, has to be dif­fer­ent from my under­stand­ings. Because val­ue you, I want to know more about you. And because I val­ue you, I want to know how well your per­spec­tive is working.

Idea for Zen Living: Be more loving. Open yourself to the possibility of caring and compassion, with no need to fix anyone or anything. From this place of non-fixing, live elegantly, leave a mark, and be a blessing!

Get on with it

Peo­ple pick at the self-cre­at­ed scabs of them­selves, and irri­tate them­selves, and the explo­ration, such as it is, nev­er leads any­where except to more things to not like. 

The joke is, the stuff they are dig­ging up is just a sto­ry they are telling them­selves. It’s not true,” it’s not, “who they are.” Who they are is, “all of it, plus all the oth­er stuff.”

And self-explo­ration does­n’t mat­ter any­way. Because this kind of self-explo­ration leads only inward.

No authen­tic spir­i­tu­al path actu­al­ly leads inward. Take med­i­ta­tion. Seems inter­nal, all that breath­ing and emp­ty­ing the mind. But to what end?

Pres­ence! And pres­ence only hap­pens out here, in the world.

Idea for Zen Living: When I stop talking to myself and judging myself and coming up with yet another label, I can simply be, and in that being, respond to life, to self, and to others, and thus to accomplish something elegant.

Because in order to leave a mark, you have to actu­al­ly do some­thing different!

(Are you notic­ing how all of this fits togeth­er? Good!)

Live in the Present, for a Change

Change only hap­pens in the present moment. The client I men­tioned above was regret­ting a past rela­tion­ship. My ques­tion: How would that per­son (now dead) want you to live your life now? You can’t change what’s hap­pened, but you can change “from now on!”

Idea for Zen Living: Dedicate yourself to discovering the actual moment you are living in, and stay there. If it ain’t working, don’t do it. Do more of what does work. Open yourself to the present that presence presents.

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