Be Amazed

Be Amazed

Be Amazed

Are you paying attention?

The Practice:
Be amazed.

Why?

Last night, stressing about undone tasks, I glanced in a mirror and saw my t-shirt, with its picture of a galaxy and a little sign sticking up out of its outer swirls, saying “you are here.” A joke gift from my wife, I’ve worn this shirt many times – yet for once it stopped me in my tracks. In William Blake’s phrase, the doors of perception popped open and it really hit me: yes we are actually here, off to the edge of a vast floating whirlpool of stars, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas. Here, now, nearly fourteen billion years after the cosmos bubbled into being.. What the?!

My mind stopped yapping and I felt the delight and awe of a little kid who for the first time sees a butterfly, or tastes ice cream, or realizes that the stars above are really far away. Gratitude and wow and something edging into dare I say it sacred washed through me.

In a word, I was amazed – which means “filled with wonder and surprise,” even “overwhelmed with wonder.” Besides the simple happiness in this experience, it lifted me above the tangled pressures and worries I was stuck to like a bug on flypaper. Amazement is instant stress relief. It also opens the heart: I couldn’t any longer be even a little exasperated with my wife. Perhaps most deeply, being amazed brings you into the truth of things, into relationship with the inherent mysteries and overwhelming gifts of existence, scaled from the molecular machinery of life to the love and forgiveness in human hearts to the dark matter that glues the universe together.

Wow. Really. Wow.

How?

Opportunities for amazement are all around us. I think back to that look in the eyes of our son and daughter as they were born, blinking in the light of the room, surprised by all the shapes and colors, entering a whole new world. Seen with the eyes of a child, the simplest thing is amazing: a blade of grass, being licked by a puppy, the taste of cinnamon, riding piggyback on your daddy, or the fact that running your eyes over lines of black squiggles fills your mind with tales of dragons and heroes and fairy godmothers.

Look around you. This morning I sat down to my computer, clicked a mouse, and chanting recorded in a Russian cathedral filled the room. Crazy! Imagine being a Stone Age person transported 50,000 years forward into your chair. Glass windows, pencils, flat wood, the smell of coffee, woven cloth, a metal spoon . . . it would all be amazing.

Try to see more of your world in this way, as if you are seeing it for the first time, perhaps through the eyes of a child if not a caveman. Beginner’s mind, zen mind. If you’re not amazed, you’re not paying attention.

Explore “don’t know mind” – not “duh” mind, but an openness that doesn’t immediately slot things into boxes, that allows a freshness and curiosity. The mind categorizes and labels things to help us survive. Fine enough, but underneath this skim of meaning laid over the boiled milk of reality, we don’t truly know what anything is. We use words like “atoms” and “quarks” and “photons,” but no one knows what a quark or photon actually is.

We don’t know what love actually is, either, but it is all around us. It’s amazing to me that people love me, amazing that people forgive each other, that those once at war with each other can eventually live in peace. Consider people you know, how they keep going when they’re tired, breathe through pain, get up yet again to walk a crying baby, settle down in the middle of an argument and admit fault and move on. To me, that a mother can embrace the young man who murdered her son is more amazing than an exploding supernova. And just as others are amazing to you, you are also amazing to them.

If we were brave enough to be more often filled with wonder and surprise, we would treat ourselves and others and our fragile world more gently.

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DON’T USE

– just one of the 200 billion galaxies in the universe
– knocked me out of my mumbling grumbling

I could no longer be uptight about some undone forms in my business when my mind was blown.

To fill with wonder and surprise
Overwhelm with wonder
Bewilder, perplex
Stupefy, make crazy

  • Rita

    Wow, amazing!!! Thank you for the guidance into seeing through “new eyes”!!! – R

  • Jeanna Magary

    “The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

  • mazzy

    “Try to see more of your world in this way” –

    I have a “method” for this.

    When I am feeling less than wonderful, I ask myself a very simple question, “What do I miss?” or “What am I missing in this moment.” It changes my focus instantly…so that instead of focusing on what I don’t like in the moment, I look back to what I loved too briefly before and is gone.

    The fact that I am not in a good state is not because it is raining or there is traffic or that my boss is in a bad mood. If I had won the lottery that morning, I assure you not one of those things would affect me in the least – I’d be dancing in the rain, singing in the car, and buying my boss a drink just before I hand in my resignation letter.

    The fact that I am not in a good state most days is because I miss the comfort of my pillows, the smell of summer skies and warm sunshine, and the pleasure of my mother’s love. So, it doesn’t start with the “bad” at all – it starts with forgetting to appreciate/savor/relish/marinate in the good that does exist – until it overcomes you.

    Once I recognize that and turn back to face that greatness with gratitude and appreciation, the chemicals start moving, and the neurons start connecting – eradicating pain/irritation. If I stay there long enough, even when my boss gets worked up about something, I am free-floating beyond it. Her pain does not become my pain. And even more amazing, I can free-float beyond it so well as to see that her pain is a result of something she’s missing, and that it’s not personal for me at all, but personal to her. That’s compassion. So, it causes my unease to subside completely, as well as to insulate me from my own negative reaction to external events. In addition to this, I’ve created a lasting impression on which future positive events will be reinforced by the positive memory of the positive memory. It’s a fascinating chain reaction, like cultivating your garden of blessings by watering it with gratitude, so that they grow exponentially on their own.