"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
In her new book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington invites us to be present by discovering wonder in our everyday lives. Wonder? What's that? And how do we make time for it when we're constantly wired and consumed by our to-do lists?
It's much easier than you might think.
It's Not in Your Mind
Wonder is available to you right now and always. It's here in this very moment -- not as a concept, but as your living reality. It's the mixture of surprise and awe you feel when you encounter something amazing, unexpected and new. It connects you directly with the aliveness that is the source of everything.
Here's what's important to know about wonder: it's experienced outside the limited space of your mind. If your thoughts control you, what's your experience? Ruminating about what you should have done, brooding about what isn't going right and worrying about the future. The possibility of wonder seems a million miles away.
The truth is that everything you perceive is always fresh and new. Think about it -- is it possible for a moment to be repeated? This moment has never occurred before and never will again.
If this is so, then why are you missing out on wonder? Why do things feel familiar, routine and even stale?
Present at the Heart of Everything
If things seem familiar to you, you're experiencing them through the lens of your memories, not as they actually are.
Take a look at a common object -- say, a table. How do you know it's a table? Your mind has learned that tables have certain characteristics that match the object you're perceiving.
What if, just for a moment, you could forget the word table and all your memories about tables? Now, take a look at it and see it directly as it is.
You'll notice a completely different experience. You don't know what it is or what it does. You're curious and open. It's palpably alive to you!
Now, imagine forgetting all your memories, including frustrations, resentments, and worries. How would the world look to you then? What if you didn't carry the past or future into the present?
Zen Buddhists speak of "beginner's mind." When we stop seeing our experiences through memory, we are beginners, innocent and open, just like a child. We have an almost visceral experience of everything that is undeniably real. We are infinitely curious.
Problems and stresses melt away, if only for a moment -- they can't exist without memory.
Wonder is pure experiencing without labeling, comparing, or analyzing. It's closer and more available than you could ever imagine -- at the heart of everything once you ignore your thoughts about it.
When you directly experience things, without the veil of thought, you feel them, sense them, and come to know their aliveness.
Life is right here, always available to be experienced as it is. In celebration of wonder, forget what you know and try these:
- Eat a raisin. Place a raisin in your palm. Experience it through your senses, not your mind, then take a glorious bite.
- Close your eyes. Enter a familiar room, and close your eyes. Move around the room touching objects as you go. Be curious about what these things are actually like.
- Open your heart. Meet people you know as if for the first time. Forget all your memories of them, and look into their eyes.
As you can see, wonder is less than a nanosecond away. It turns the ordinary into something absolutely extraordinary. Let yourself know nothing, and experience the deepest fulfillment in this very moment.