On a recent spiritual quest trip to Maui, I had the golden opportunity to connect with the American spiritual leader and teacher Ram Dass. Many baby boomers will remember him for his iconic book Be Here Now, originally published in the 1970s. You might recall that this book could have been found in many dormitory rooms on college campuses at that time. The wisdom of Ram Dass's words continue now in the New Millennium. New terms such as "mindfulness" have emerged, but the message is the same: Be present. Appreciate the now. Emanate loving-kindness, and celebrate the happy moments.
Ram Dass's philosophy offers universal wisdom. As a spiritual seeker myself, I am open to all positive thinkers, and Ram Dass is surely one of them. Ram Dass was born as Richard Alpert into a Jewish family, but after some travels to India in the 1960s, his guru Maharaji-ji gave him his new spiritual name, Ram Dass, which means "servant of God." Interestingly enough, when he was in his 60s, he began tapping into his Jewish roots quite seriously for the first time. His viewpoint at that time was, "My belief is that I wasn't born into Judaism by accident, and so I needed to find ways to honor that." He said that from a Hindu perspective, "You are born as what you need to deal with, and if you just try and push it away, wherever it is, it's got you." The concepts "Be here now" and "You are who you are" definitely emerged from this philosophy.
A good way to practice mindfulness or "being here now" is by cultivating self-awareness techniques. Self-awareness is about having a clear perception of who you are -- your personality, strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, motivations, and how in touch you are with your emotional well-being. When you're self-aware, you can more easily understand yourself and others. Being self-aware also makes you more resilient.
Those who are self-aware are typically more comfortable in their own skin, and they may be perceived as calm individuals. We may see these qualities in some clinicians, spiritual leaders, and writers.
There are various rituals that foster self-awareness, and you might consider some of them during the busy holiday season. They include:
Setting intentions: An intention can be thought of as having a plan or mission. Setting intentions can also be a way to navigate difficult times. There are different ways to set intentions. You can simply create intentions for yourself, or you can use intention cards to guide you. You can also use these cards as journaling prompts.
Meditation: Meditation is a way to calm the nerves and allow your brain to process information. It's also a way to unlock your writing ideas and tap into your inner voice. Listen to the messages the silence offers you. Meditation and writing are both about letting go. Start with 15 to 20 minutes each day, and increase as needed. If you have difficulty sitting still, you might want to try a walking meditation, where you pay close attention to your body as you do a "royal stroll," feeling the ground with each step.
Journaling: Treat yourself to a new journal and pen. Find a quiet space and time of day when you won't be interrupted. Write for 20 to 30 minutes without lifting your pen off the page. This form of automatic writing is a way to tap into your subconscious mind.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND ENJOY "BEING HERE NOW."