17 Feb A Lesson In Being Present
It’s easy to be un-present. Anyone can do that. I’m fantastic at it. I’m forgetful and (at times) inconsiderate of the needs of others.
Nonetheless, past is past and so the practice always begins Now… and now… and now. Being Present means just that; Being (‘Sat’ in Sanskrit), which is Truth or Existence (which we are always, even whilst doing) and Present, meaning in the here now.
At school, teachers used to roll call and ask if we were there to announce, “Present!”. Just like on my yoga mat, at times I would be there but not really there – if you know what I mean. Do you ever have that feeling, when you know that you’re physically present but not fully there? Maybe you’re with the kids and their endless endeavor to play. Though we want to give our children our upmost attention, sometimes we just can’t keep our minds from wandering onto work, the chores that need to be done and the plethora of other things that our minds like to entertain themselves with.
So what do we do? Certainly, a daily dose of meditation, focusing on the breath and declaring “thinking” as thoughts arise before retuning to the breath can be a great tool to become more present in daily life.
I find that daily intention to be present, even setting alarms or keeping Post-It notes up in the office to remind me can be useful. However, what being present really means to me is to be on guard more often – to catch those little stories floating around the head. Being present means catching those daydreams, the worrying or desiring and in those moments, choosing to let them go. I listen firstly to the sound inside my own ears and then become present to all the sounds that surround me.
If I remember that meditative experience, that feeling of complete peace, freedom from wanting or not wanting, then that too helps me to come back to the now.
“Look, listen and feel” is a great little mantra to help us become more present, more mindful of our surroundings and our thoughts, words and deeds. Undoubtedly this mindfulness (or lack thereof!) will effect the environment in a positive, negative or neutral way. Give up the stories in your head and “defy the lie”, as Baron Baptiste used to put it.
Sure, there may be good reason to reminisce and there are plenty of times that we need to plan for the future ahead, but don’t let go of today’s greatest need, which is for more of us to be present and accountable for the impact we have on the planet and all beings in it.
It doesn’t take much time to pause for a moment, look, listen, feel and have an inner body experience. No one else can do the work for us. Self-effort is all that we have to use as our means of salvation.
One definition of enlighten that I like is “one hundred percent present, one hundred percent of the time”. Let’s be present so as to make the world a better place by spreading more joy and positivity and giving up all that doesn’t serve us.
Om Tat Sat Om.