Treat before you move your feet
“The entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.” ~ Rumi
Many years ago when I began practicing living a spiritual life, my teacher would say to me: pray always. Before you do anything, pray. If you get in the car, pray. If you go into an important meeting, pray. If you do anything that you value, pray first.
My thought was what an incredibly tall order that was. How was it that I was going to find the time to stop whatever I was doing and take the time to do a spiritual mind treatment? And what difference would it make other than to make me potentially late for the meeting at hand.
But here’s the thing – it changed everything.
First, putting prayer first meant that I added on a few extra minutes before anything of import to centre myself and remind myself of my own individualized expression of spirit.
Secondly, it meant that I had to get clear on what my intention was. What experience or outcome was I looking for? What feeling did I want to come away with? Was there anything to be resolved, and how could I resolve it in my own mind first and set myself up for a peaceful outcome?
Waiting in the wings
I remember once using this technique to steady my nerves before my first public talk before nearly 200 people. I had 10 minutes to go, my palms were sweaty, my heart racing, my legs shaking. Three deep breaths and I was able to settle into a knowingness that all the work had been done, and that everything necessary would present itself in divine right order. I entered the stage with a serenity that only minutes earlier I couldn’t possibly have imagined.
In other words, I made an “entrance” with consciousness around what I was doing.
Entrances and exits
What I didn’t consider until this week was how the same practice can be applied to exits as well as entrances.
I was reflecting on two experiences of exits this week. One left me feeling at peace, while the other left me feeling unsettled.
Here’s what I realized, in the good exit I used my gut feelings to guide me, and while I was certainly on the verge of wallowing in a puddle of emotion, I pulled the plug early enough that I could be mindful, loving, peaceful and caring. In other words: I was able to determine with clarity and congruence with my intention.
Our actions around how we enter and leave and experience matter deeply. These are the pinnacle of transition points – not only for ourselves, but for all those around us. Think of the cocktail party and the judgments that come up upon meeting someone for the first time. That’s an entrance – a gateway to a new experience for both of you. How you leave the party is equally important – will your host remember you, and if so for what?
Life really is a series of practice around how we enter and exit, all perhaps culminating in the ultimate exit – how we choose to transition from this life into the next.
We carry our consciousness with us. Our moments of transition – into and out of any experience – have more to teach us about how we choose to live life than anything else. Taking the time for spiritual mind treatment as we take on these transition points bring us closer to our awareness about who we are in the moment. As Eckhardt Tolle says: the power is in the present. And it’s in the present, that we choose our experience.