“Embracing Each Moment: A Guide to the Awakened Life” by Anam Thubten
There’s something about this word: Embrace that Anam Thubten speaks of that says it all to me. To wake up from stress and suffering we have to be able to Embrace everything with a sense of softness and love. When we feel pain or disappointment - can we sink into the moment and put our hands on our hearts and melt around the pain instead of fight against it or try to make it go away? Can we remember that pain is part of life and it’s just our conditioning to hate it and resent it? Can we sit by our own side like a dear friend with kind words for ourselves and a hand on the heart through the pain and the joy? Through the pleasure and the discomfort?
We so often mistake these ideas that waking up means being peaceful and happy all of the time. The reality is that waking up means not being at war with ourselves and life. It means having a steady part of ourselves and compassionate part of ourselves that can be there no matter what storms come and go - this is how we can have freedom, ease and happiness.
What I love about this book is that it offers both a cognitive understanding of how to find true and sustainable happiness and also a HOW. The main thing I keep returning to in the “how” of it all is this idea of melting. Because I’m such a body-based person and I feel such significant changes in my life when I am able to make those changes through sensing my body differently or doing something differently with my body.
“Melting is the experience of not having any sense of being contracted or shut down in any way. Instead, it is having the feeling that you can trust this world, you can trust this universe, and you can trust this human life. It is totally irrational. Just like love; love is irrational. Just like compassion; it is totally irrational. Can you understand the feeling of trusting life? So there is no longer a ‘you’ who is somehow defending your own territory, your own egoistic territory, and who is trying to fight or flee from the outer world. This sense of trust comes naturally when you are no longer bound by your own fear. You cannot experience this trust as long as you are ruled by fear. This trust that I am speaking of is also a form of love. It’s not so much that you love somebody or something, but that you become love.”
When we can physically melt our bodies when there’s a tension or contraction, this is a compassionate action in itself and immediately shifts the possibility of how we choose to relate to ourselves. This melting allows more space to feel the places where we’re shut down and be with them with a sense of kindness and awareness.
I have to say this has been the MOST inspiring and nourishing book I’ve read in a long time. It’s a fairly short book and I slowed down to read it so I could savor every line. Now… I’m re-reading it. It’s easy to read and take in AND there are many layers to what he is teaching - I see this as a book to return to over and over again to support our practices of settling our minds and resting in our hearts.
“Believe it or not our hearts are wild dancers, ecstatic dancers. They always want to dance. We may remember when we were children; our hearts were always dancing. Our hearts didn’t know how to hate, how to be greedy or selfish, how to have resentment, or how to be judgmental. Our hearts were innocent. We played with toys -- sticks, rocks, and trees. When we remember this, we see that the heart is a natural, blissful dancer. It always wants to dance. It wants to be in harmony with everything. It wants to surrender. It wants to love. It wants to melt. It wants to forgive. It wants to be spacious. It wants to transcend all the limitations, all the boundaries. The heart wants to be graceful like the sea and spacious like the sky.
Somehow our hearts are not dancing. Of course, there are many moments when we are in touch with that pure, original, innocent heart. In those moments, we become naturally generous, courageous, and loving. In the moments when your heart is not dancing, a good thing to do is to go inside and simply ask, “Is my heart dancing?”
You can read more of my thoughts on this subject on my blog post, “Why and How Embracing Yourself & Each Moment Is Important To Living A Peaceful Life.” Also be sure to check out a long list of books and resources that I love by clicking here. And lastly... here's the link to buy the book "Embracing Each Moment: A guide to the Awakened Life" by Anam Thubten.