“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite.”
Like so many of my thoughts, I have no clue where it came from. I’ve asked myself to recall but that file is gone, that memory lost, like the stolen contents of an empty drawer containing only echoes and dust.
What I do know is that a year ago or so, I found myself mining for a meaningful mnemonic for mindfulness. A single word that captured the essence of mental serenity and spiritual liberation. One word that could stand for other words that oriented the mind around clarity, awareness and peace. A word I could give my clients. A word they could carry like a trusted knife in the pocket of their worn jeans. A trusted tool they could use to cut through the fear and confusion that visits all of us like dark crows on dark nights. A saber of light, a kind of truth-torch to illumine their path when they need it most. A comforter, a guide, a wise friend with enough depth to keep them and all they love safe, secure and well-defended when their demons rose to distract them from their own holy search for grace. The sacred Grail of their dreams, the purpose they came here to pursue, the purpose that eludes them even now. Their piece of the grand prize that each of us shares (that each of us is); a precious piece of the powerful puzzle of us – our Great One Self – indivisible, indescribable, pure, perfect and whole.
I quickly found four words swimming among other candidates that popped out clean and true that said you are me and I am you and the only decision left was what order to place their first letters. One vowel repeated twice and two consonants. Lana? Nala? Alan? Definitely not anal. I quickly chose Lana when two more words came running up like hobos chasing a train and I welcomed them like old friends, relatives even, priceless gold coins. “Come in, she said I’ll give ya shelter from the storm.”
Another consonant and that same vowel. Now we were talking. This was true magic. Now this was a word that sang. This was a band that played. A parade that could please the crowd, six words that became six letters that, when rightly arranged, rang like a monk’s bell, pure and true, with the right rhythm and tone: Lanata. Repeat it with me now: Lanata. Again, Lanata.
L stood for Listen, a word that means more than hear. Listen means open not just the ears but the mind and heart. Listen, attend, attune to the sounds around and within. Listen with our whole being, like we are a tuning fork, waiting to be struck with just the right pressure and pitch. Listen with care and concern, like a dog, its nose to the air, leaning into and learning everything from the wind. Listen with alertness to the plea of peace in the permanent presence of now. Listen like stretching the mind to capture what is always there but easily ignored.
The second letter and the first A stood for Allow, a word that is ultimately kind, forgiving and willing to receive. Just what does this moment contain? What portion of it is worth allowing, welcoming, permitting without reservation or restraint? At this moment, what do I give permission to exist, and what do I fight, struggle against and resist? To what do I concede, surrender and recede, offer my heart, the sanctuary of me? When we allow reality to be what it is, we forsake our role as judge and jury. We acquiesce, we bear the burden, give consent, refuse to flee or fight or freeze but remain flexibly free in the presence of what is.
The third letter and second consonant is N and stands for Notice, a word that points us toward a deeper listening, a special kind of attention or awareness that observes with all the senses, attends with intelligence, perceives with discernment, understands with compassion, regards with respect, acknowledges with empathy, watches with clear eyes, waits with purity and patience, and learns the lessons offered in this moment, in this place, with deep gratitude, humility and wisdom.
The fourth letter and second A is for Acceptance, a word that goes beyond allowing and leads us out of our tiny sense of self and says open up and go outward with our Yes, affirming the light in all we see. When we accept, we go looking for the truth we already know is there. We forget fear as we curiously seek what is entering into our awareness and bring our willingness to suffer as we incorporate this experience into our collective opportunity for education and growth.
The fifth letter and final consonant is T for Trust, a very special word that asks us to believe beyond what we know; to commit ourselves to a simple faith beyond our guarantees of security and control. When we sit, stand and move with trust, we connect with something deeper than our history and imagination. We believe in truth, not a particular truth but truth itself as we seek to be that truth in all we think and say and do. We act with confidence, power and strength, in the midst of fear and doubt, believing we can be our best self, whether we win or lose, succeed or fail. And in that deep trust, come to understand there is no failure, only a deeper becoming, an expanding awareness, a more wonderful realization of profound peace.
And the sixth and final letter and final A is for Admire, perhaps the most important word of all. Admire, what we do when we first look at our baby or our mother at birth, our lover at the moment we first begin to fall, a sunset over the ocean at low-tide, our child learning to walk or a flock of birds rising and soaring overhead as if they are driven by one mind. Admire: what we would all do if we truly understood who we were and how far we’ve come to be here. Admire: the appropriate attitude that appreciates how hard it is to be a human. Admire: what we all crave, need and desire from those we love; the validation we matter to them and to the world. Admire: what we do when we stop and wake up and gaze upon self and other with new eyes, as if for the very first time. Admire: when we regard self or other with wonder and awe, high esteem and love, a kind of cherishing reverence. When we see the best in self and others, we treasure the light and life that drives each of us forward while something in us praises and applauds.
Lanata: Listen, Allow, Notice, Accept, Trust and Admire. Just six words that form six letters that form a made-up word that point us toward an attitude of openness, generosity, confidence, gratitude and ultimately love. When I told one particular client about it, he printed out his own version of it with those six words surrounding one word: Being, which I thought was perfect.
What is the one thing that isn’t a thing that never changes and always exists? Something beyond time and age, beyond person and place. Who is it (or what is it) that reads these words? What is beyond our seeing? What gives life to our thought-filled minds? When we dig deep, we discover, there is this “thing” we can call Being, Awareness or Consciousness. It has no color or creed. It has no nationality or religion.
It is what we most essentially are and yet we cannot find it anywhere with our senses. As self-aware beings, we are aware we are aware but there are no words we can use to capture, contain or cage this knowing-self. Whether we use Lanata or another word or method to find our essence, the only words that come close to the truth of our Being is “I am.” And your “I am” is the same as mine. When we listen to that song, allow it to sing, notice its beauty, accept its wisdom, trust its truth and admire its tenacity, we are that much closer to the wordless realization of who we all deeply and truly are.