I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
call being alive.
- from "I Happened to Be Standing" by Mary Oliver, 2012
A Three-Step Mantra
Spiritual director Bernard Tickerhoof begins his presentations by asking participants to repeat the following mantra:
"At this moment...I am alive."
"At this moment...I am the beneficiary of a tremendous gift."
"At this moment...I am given the opportunity of responding to an overwhelming outpouring of love."
Tickerhoof calls this three-step mantra an example of primal spirituality. By primal, he means the place where everything begins. (Presence Magazine, June 2016)
What Does It Mean to Be Truly Alive?
When I reflect upon Oliver's poetry and Tickerhoof's three-step mantra, I am aware of how little I know how to define what it means to be truly alive. I know that I feel more fully alive when I am engaged with people who are different from me, who challenge my assumptions and values. I know that when I am plugged in to nature, I am more grateful to be alive. And I know when I am overwhelmed by circumstances far beyond my capacity to figure out, those moments of absolute panic leave me feeling in some strange way, refreshed and recharged by something I would call Life.
And when I hear Bernadette Peters sing "Being Alive," I remember that our purpose here on this earth is to help each other become more fully alive.
If you were to create a three-step mantra that expresses where everything begins for you, what would it say?
Consider times in your life when you have felt truly alive. What do those moments teach you about what Life is all about?
What can you do in the next 48 hours to demonstrate your intention to be more fully alive?
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