“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but
I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
— Douglas Adams
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The spiritual path operates on dimensions our human minds can’t track. That’s why one of the most practical navigational strategies is to let go.
Blogger Stacey Kennelly wrote, “’Stop and smell the roses’” may be a cliché, but new research suggests it’s sound advice for finding satisfaction in life. A forthcoming study in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences suggests that appreciating the meaningful things and people in our lives may play an even larger role in our overall happiness than previously thought.”
What happens when we do stop and smell the roses? We appreciate them. They were there all along but we missed seeing them, smelling them, and we also missed expressing appreciation. Of course, when we stop – that is, exit the hamster wheel of distractions and addictions – there’s much more than roses to see and much more than appreciation to feel.
Life is like a closed book; until you open it, there’s nothing much of interest visible. What really needs opening, though, is our hearts, because here’s where our navigation system for a meaningful life resides. Following the guidance of the heart is entirely different than the kind of navigation thinking produces. It’s the heart that bids us stop, for one thing, and it’s the heart that can feel appreciation. And the meaning that Kennelly referred to may not actually reside in the object of our observation but in the act of observing from a heart space.
Quantum researchers propose that what we call reality exists as a field of unlimited probabilities that collapse into experiences as we observe. Wiki defines one classic quantum law, The Observer Effect, as “the theory that simply observing a situation or phenomenon necessarily changes that phenomenon.” 2
So, it’s not just stopping to smell the roses but the way we view them that can produce a meaningful experience. If this theory is true, a whole new world of possibilities opens to our imagination. What if we took responsibility for how we viewed our world, moment by moment? We could prove (or disprove) another popular quantum convention: “As viewed, so seen.”
When we let go of mind-centered guidance, which honors logic and efficiency, in favor of heart-centered navigation, which employs emotion, we begin to tap into the stuff of Gods. We become truly creative. “Behold, I create” we might declare, in a grandiose moment, acknowledging that we are indeed creating the reality we experience.
Then a very different path leads us on. There are more curves here, less certainty about direction, but more fulfillment along the way. It’s popular to say that the journey is more important than the destination but what if the journey was the destination? What if an enlightened life is not about arriving at some destination, a state of illumination with deep, cosmic understanding, but mastering the skill of presence, being able to be fully here and now to appreciate it all?
We may have met an enlightened janitor! How about that gentle soul who never tires of playing with his grandchildren, because he’s retired from that hamster wheel and he’s truly content?
Content! What a concept. Who’s content these days? Well, the roses are content. In fact, it’s absurd to imagine anxiety in nature. Trees don’t worry about squirrels climbing them and birds sitting in them. Streams don’t get anxious as the rapids approach. It’s difficult to even imagine such things. It’s humans that worry.
Will Rogers said, “I know worrying works because none of the stuff I worried about ever happened.” That’s one way of looking at it. Another perspective, from Mark Twain: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” And, as Dr. Graham Davey writes in Psychology Today, “The worrier spends hours worrying, with the usual outcome being that the topic of the worry now seems much worse than better!” 3
We can literally worry our lives away. But that’s not really living, let alone evolving our spiritual practice! Here we are, in this moment. What are we aware of? Can we expand our awareness? As we do, can we appreciate the more that we become aware of, whether it be roses or people we’ve barely seen or situations we unconsciously decided were insignificant?
In other words, how does the world we see change when we change how we view it? Who knows where we might end up when we freed our perception from limiting beliefs and followed our hearts to where we end up? Destination: right here, right now.