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We sat down with Lauren Rosenfeld, co-author of Breathing Room, to ask her a few questions before her appearance on Beyond Words Presents this Wednesday.

1) What do you know for sure?

One thing I know for sure is that every moment is an opportunity to engage with the ultimate dimension of life. I think we do a great disservice to life when we separate our experience into categories of sacred and mundane, as if we had to take leave of one to make our way into the other. I really believe that Divine Being is always calling us more and more deeply into our experience of being human. And if we are good listeners, we can hear that call wherever we are – not just on a yoga mat or a mediation cushion or a pew in church or synagogue. But when we are driving in traffic, standing in line at the bank, checking tomatoes for bruises in the grocery aisle, making our way through a meeting agenda, and yes, even in a pile of clutter.

There is nowhere that Truth is that you are not. You are always in its precise location. So sorting through clutter for me is an opportunity to encounter something true about myself. Something meaningful about myself. When I come to terms with what is essential, I can release what is inessential, and I will find myself drawing closer and closer to my True self.

I know at the core of my being that this experience of decluttering our homes is our pathway back to our true selves. And that is not to say that it is an easy path, but like all rewarding paths, if we have the courage to let go, we will find ourselves stronger in the end.

2) What recent thing have you seen that has reminded you of a great lesson you have learned in your life but maybe don’t attend to? How do others remember to find greater meaning in their everyday lives?

Recently I found my car stalled at the post office. Just dead. Turned the key. Not a sound. Lights were on. Battery was clearly working. Gas tank full. But not a sound from my engine. Not even a click.  My day was not going as planned. Earlier that day, a friend who I had arranged to have lunch with had forgotten our date. I decided to make the best of it and stopped by my local bookstore where I picked up a tiny pocket copy of the Dhammapada.  I threw it in my purse and headed to the post office, where I now sat, stranded.

I had no choice but to call AAA and wait for a tow. I was told my wait would be an hour. I cursed my luck.  I tried several times to get the engine to turn over with no luck. Dead. Dead. And dead again.  This day is wrecked, I thought.  And then I remembered I had the Dhammpada in my purse. I saw that the sun was shining and a warm breeze was blowing. And I realized that the Universe had gifted me with an hour of deep contemplation and meditation. So I took the gift. Gratefully. Happily.

And an hour and a half later the tow truck arrived. The driver was deeply apologetic for his tardiness. It turned out he had taken the truck though a car wash and knocked the lights off the top.

I told him it was quite alright with me.

He told me he was terribly worried. His boss was angry. The cost of replacing the lights on the truck was going to be steep.

“But look at you,” he told me, “You’re so happy. How do you DO that?” And looking in at the book on my seat he said, “I hope there are some prayers in that book for me.” I explained that the book simply said that if you chose happiness, that goodness would follow you wherever you went. And that I would be happy to include him in my prayers.

“You know, you’re just the person I needed to see right now,” he told me, his face relaxing, “Why don’t you show me what’s going on with your car.”

“Well, it’s just dead,” I told him. And once again I turned the key in the ignition. And the car went on.

“I guess you were just supposed to be waiting here for me,” he said.

I suppose this was true. That sometimes we are just supposed to show up as a grace in the lives of others. And when we relax into the moment and allow it to be, we surely will.

3) If you could let someone see through your eyes how would they see the person in front of them? What lenses would they be looking through?

I choose to look at the world through the lens of gratitude. Because there is always something to be grateful for. When in doubt, I return to my breath, knowing that this simple rhythm is a gift beyond measure that connects me to All That Is. If people could see the world through my eyes, they would see that every moment is a wonderful moment, because even in our most challenging moments, there is the opportunity to offer or receive compassion, which is our essential connection to one another. If everyone could see through my eyes, they would be grateful that they had the gift of sight, this miracle through which imagination manifests.

If people could see the world through my eyes, if they could look through the lens of gratitude they would see that

  • Every breath is a gift
  • Every step is freedom
  • Every touch is connection
  • Every difficult moment is an opportunity for courage
  • Every word is power.

What a wonderful set of tools we’ve each been given to connect to the world around us and the people in it.

I see the world with gratitude. And I return to the ground of gratitude.

Because I find that it is not that I am grateful for happiness, but in gratitude, I find happiness.

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