“How do you make a moment sacred?” I was asked recently. I have wondered this many times myself. Do I need to light candles, dress a certain way, decorate my home and yoga spaces with certain touches, etc. The list goes on…how often have I been on the brink of “spiritual materialism;” using material objects to prove one’s spirituality? A couple of months ago I attended a powerful poetry reading with Coleman Barks and Michael Meade. Meade was reciting some lines of Hafiz, one of which was “Everything is sacred.” I have heard such words many times but for some reason in that moment, the words struck me. I realized the simple, raw truth and a wave of relief swept through me. Yes, everything is sacred already. The candles, clothing, and decor - can be nice, but they don’t really matter. Everything already is sacred. We are alive. It is a miracle. Every moment, every person - whether the situation is pleasant or unpleasant - is a precious gift.
It is a well-known fact in the spiritual and scientific communities, that the labels in our minds affect the way we experience the world. Quantum physicists say the world is like a cloud of potentiality. Your experience of the world is directly affected by what is in your mind. Tibetan Buddhists echo this with teachings on Shunyata or emptiness. The world is empty of any fixed way of being; people, places, objects are empty of any fixed quality or characteristic. The way we experience every object, place, or person, including ourselves, directly depends on the labels and impressions in our minds. The Indian Yogis have the term “Neti-Neti;” not this-not that. A person or object is not this or that. Your experience is based on your mind.
In the Tibetan Buddhist teachings of Mahamudra, the Buddhists suggest that we label every moment as a gift and every being as an angel. Experience life with that mind! It is a wonderful practice.
The Hindu Tantrikas encourage us to go beyond labels all together. Let the self be in the void, the emptiness, the cloud of potentiality. Instead of the mind spilling into that space trying to label something “sacred” or “superficial,” just be in the space, the mind empty of labels and let the moment be. Let yourself be. Let the people you are with be. Let universe spill into the void and make the moment beyond you and the other. Create a line of communication between the center of your heart and the universe and let a connection, a dance, a moment simply happen. As the mind is free of labels, it inevitably becomes free of expectation.
If we are tied to a label or an image of how something needs to look, how can we experience what is actually happening? The miracle and dynamism of every moment can so easily be missed.
Yoga and meditation can help us break free of limiting thoughts that a situation -a job, a relationship, a lifestyle - has to look a particular way. Where do those ideas come from anyway? They are most likely someone else’s.
I find when I allow my mind to be present and open, the moment goes beyond self and other and whatever the magic is that gave us life, that brings us together and that takes us apart, can be included in the moment. The magic is always there, but there is room for my mind to notice, appreciate, and be inspired to stay present.
May we become flexible in our minds as well as our bodies. May we allow ourselves and our children to enjoy a continuous experience of freedom in the mind - free of labels and expectations - allowing each other to experience life with all of its possibilities.
“What your mind dwells on, you become,” says Swami Muktananda. If you are having a tough day, I suggest practicing a meditation where you label yourself as capable, strong, and pure. If you are having a day where you feel steady and strong in yourself, I suggest a meditation practice where you let consciousness rest in the void. Leave the mind out and let universe spill in.