Today is a perfect day, at least for me. I was just sitting here enjoying it when I started thinking about what makes a perfect day. Obviously, it's a matter of perception and it would be different for everyone. Could there be a common foundation that we all can experience as a perfect day? Is there something available to each one of us regardless of circumstances that can be this joyful?
On the surface it appeared that rain was responsible for my joy, but it's more than that. Rain just brought me fully into the moment. The real joy is being fully present in the moment and experiencing being itself. The storms that have soaked our desert today helped me get there but not without some self-awareness. My natural tendency is to work on what needs to be done. When that is finished I look for the next thing I need to do. I like being productive and as an entrepreneur my income depends on working. Today that impulse arose, like it does every other day, but I did something different.
Each time my mind nagged me to get to work I said no. I wanted to enjoy the sound of the rain and thunder just a little longer. We don't get much rain here in the Sonoran Desert. Until this weekend every monsoon storm has developed before our eyes and gone north just a few miles east of us. Neighboring towns have received record rainfall while we had only a few drops. Our area hadn't received measurable rain in 4 months. Today's storms are a real treat and great relief. That was enough to make me want to be fully present with it and enjoy it. But even when the rain stopped something was pulling at me from within.
Stillness is something I spent much of my life avoiding. To sit still and do nothing was laziness, according to early childhood teachings. Oh, how mistaken those teachings were! Stillness is full and rich when we allow ourselves to savor it, to soak in it. In stillness I'm aware of the moisture in the air and how soft it feels on my skin. I can feel the peace that is not a result of outside conditions but emanates from within. My body is completely calm and relaxed. My mind stops it's rambling and prodding and planning. The silence is vast and very much alive. That's what I was experiencing when I decided that this is a perfect day. Then the secret to perfect days became clear.
There is an experience that no activity can match and no outer condition can create. It is the experience of being aware of being and the realization that you enjoy being. From this place of awareness of being-ness every little thing I noticed was rich and had amazing depth. Sounds, light, colors, even the air became more alive, tangible, and remarkable. I realized there is joy in just being, far more joy than any activity can provide.
I don't want to spend my whole life sitting still so the question now is how to bring this level of awareness into all the things I do. Can I be this fully present when I'm writing or working online? Writing, art, and photography do bring me fully into the moment but my attention is on what I'm doing, not the experience of being. Is it possible to be aware of both at the same time? I think that must be what it is to live an awakened life, and I think it must be possible. At this moment the only way I am aware of to get to the point where I can simultaneously be fully present with activities and aware of the experience of being is practice. It will probably take a lot of reminders to sense the awareness within for just a moment while I'm working because my mind still prefers focusing externally.
If you have any suggestions to help with my practice please share them in a comment. If you've experienced this yourself please share how you experienced it for the benefit of other readers.