You feel it when you’re skiing down that mountain at lightning speed while listening to your favorite song on your iPod.
You feel it when you’re walking through the park with the object of your affection and every flower and tree is splashed with Technicolor, imprinting every detail of every moment with millions of pixels of data you’ll replay for weeks.
You feel it when you travel to exotic locales, far outside of your safe comfort zone and far into the realm of the sublime and surreal.
You feel it when you’re brave enough to open your heart, even in the face of serial heartbreak.
You feel it when you risk everything and don’t die.
When You Don’t Feel It
You may not feel it when you’re schlepping off to that cubicle… again.
You may miss it when you’re home on your comfortable sofa with your comfortable people living your comfortable, safe life.
You may crave it when you’re doing it missionary style for your regular Friday night date with the person you’ve been with for twenty years.
You may wish for it when you’re at the pool with the children you love who keep you from skiing down the mountain, strolling in the park with your crush, and traveling to exotic destinations.
What Is IT?
So what is this feeling, this addictive, seductive, thrilling experience?
It’s a sense of being radically present and momentously alive.
It’s that feeling of being so connected to All That Is that you forget, for just a moment, the illusion of separateness that typically plagues you.
There’s nothing like it. Once you’ve felt it, you want to feel that way all the time.
This is why people jump out of airplanes. It’s why they get hooked on extreme sports. It’s why they have affairs. It’s why they travel the world.
So they can feel that way all the time.
You Can Go Overboard
If you’re not careful, you can take it too far. You can be constantly seeking the next rush. You can fail to appreciate the quiet moments. You can fall into depression when you’re not risking everything.
This quest for feeling alive can drive you to ski down a mountain too steep for your skill level, to betray someone you love in search of the next hit, to try Ecstasy.
In trying to feel alive, you could die.
So Where’s The Balance?
If too much radical aliveness can harm you and too little can leave you feeling blah, what’s the solution?
Here’s the kicker.
Radical presence is a choice you can choose any time.
To feel alive in the moment is easy when you’re risking life, limb, the state of your heart, or your comfort zone. If you haven’t practiced being in the everyday moment or radically noticing the mundane, getting out of your groove helps you remember what it feels like to be present.
But here’s a little secret to happiness I’ll clue you into.
When you cultivate the ability to feel radically alive, present, and connected anywhere, anytime, you triple your happiness. And that quadruples your health.
Right now, for example, I am lying on my perfectly firm but still squishy Tempur-pedic mattress, and my Bichon Frisé pup Grendel is lying next to me. Grendel needs a haircut, so she’s bushy and fuzzy. My fingers get lost in her when I pet her, and she purrs like a kitten when I stroke the downy fuzz on her underbelly. (To read about how I lost my beloved Grendel not long after writing this post, click here.)
The window is open, and outside of it, it’s so unusually quiet today that I can hear the ocean waves. I can feel the breeze wafting in, kissing my ankles, which are a little chilly with no socks on.
I lit sage incense earlier and I can still smell it, mixed with the lavender oil I put on as perfume this morning. My milk oolong tea scent joins the party as I sip.
My heart feels full of the knowing that I am deeply loved and never separate.
It is an ordinary day and doesn’t leave me with that same rush I feel when I’m flying down the mountain on skis or falling in love. But all the same, it is extraordinary because I choose to let it be.
And then I forget… and I get lost in the past or start planning for the future, remembering or fantasizing, missing out on what is right here.
You Can Feel It Now
While it’s easier to tap into that feeling of radically alive presence when you’re out of your comfort zone, the reality is that you have the power to feel the same thing on your meditation pillow, on a hike through the woods, while tucking your children into bed at night, or while making love with the same person you’ve held in your arms for half your life.
You don’t have to seek that feeling of presence and connection anywhere outside yourself because it’s always yours to be had.
But go ahead. Ski. Stroll. Jump. Risk your heart. Fall in love. Leap.
It’ll wake you up and remind you of what you can choose to have every day, in every moment.
The Power Of Now
If you haven’t read Eckhardt Tolle’s masterpiece The Power Of Now, get thee to a bookstore. Or listen to this song my friend Dave Carroll (of United Breaks Guitars fame) wrote after being inspired by Tolle’s book.
Do You Feel Radically Alive?
Tell us what triggers these feelings in you?
Trying to be here now,
Previous articles by Lissa Rankin MD:
- Are You “Spiritual But Not Religious?”
- Let’s End the Story of Separation In 2015
- A Lesson In Empathy
- 9 Practical Tips to Help You Find Your Calling
- Will You Practice Judgment Or Compassion?
- 10 Fun Ways to Reduce Your Cortisol Levels
- 6 Stories To Make You Believe In The Power Of The Mind To Heal You
- A Radical Way To Grow Spiritually In A Relationship
- 7 Tips For Finding Your Tribe
- 10 Surprising Things That Trigger “Fight-Or-Flight”
About the author:
Lissa Rankin MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and healthcare providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal healthcare, while empowering you to heal yourself.
Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities – HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a speaker, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.