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Spirituality Essay:

Esse    ( January 2009 )

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"Esse" - as self-confessed crossword puzzle addict, this word appears regularly in my life. It's Latin for "being" ... one of those esoteric words frequently appearing in crosswords because of their need for lots of e's and s's.

It's come to have a special benefit for me. I use it, along with other little reminders I've chosen that pop up in life, to redirect my consciousness - my approach to life (at least at that moment) - to the importance of 'being' rather than 'doing.'

In our American culture which values accomplishment so highly, it takes concerted effort to live our lives more fully as human 'beings' rather than human 'doers.'

Do you spend too much of your life doing, rather than just being? Some of the hallmarks would be mind chatter that doesn't stop; waking up and immediately thinking of the tasks to be done that day; a 'to-do' list that always remains full; difficulty just being quietly alone; too much busy-ness and motion.

If good grades were more valued than the joy of learning and 'just being a kid' in your childhood, the pattern was likely established early.

When we're fully in that state of just 'being,' it feels as if we're in a state of grace. Precious and wonderful, we feel "at one" with the experience: our minds quiet, our breathing deepens, and our bodies hum; time becomes elastic; ... and life (being alive and having this moment) feels exquisite.

One of Buddhism's great gifts is its focus on living as completely "in the here and now" as possible, using the twin practices of meditation and mindfulness to be more fully present.

We'll be having an entire Sunday service devoted to this worthy subject in the spring, but for now, may I invite you to make one of your New Year's 'resolutions' the goal of spending more of your life 'being' rather than 'doing.' Just wanting that, of course, is the first and most powerful thing you can do to begin having it.

But also, following the Buddhist precepts, break the 'get-up- and-go' syndrome by beginning your day with a 5-10 minute meditation ... and at the end, declaring in that deep quiet you're in your intention to be as fully present as possible during the day. Embedded in that deeper consciousness, it will likely bubble up throughout your day.

Also, may I suggest using triggers or signals in daily life that will remind you to stop, pause, get out of your head and motion, and fully 'be' in that moment, with whatever activity you're involved with at that moment (creating mindfulness) - like the "esse" reminder for me. Before meetings or social encounters, I try to pause and remind myself to 'fully be' with the other person. The Buddhists use going through doorways as their trigger ... every door passed through, a reminder to "get out of their head," and return to their 'being' consciousness (because it happens so often during a day, I'm told). What would work for you?

No question, the more moments in our days we have enjoying that sweet state of being fully present, the more alive, happy, and living out of our fullest potential we become.

A Happy New Year of rich being to you!

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
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