How present are you, on a daily basis? It’s SO easy to get caught up in what I call the “windows.” The “5 minutes ago” and the “5 minutes from now” windows. Maybe even the “30 seconds ago” and “30 seconds from now” windows…it’s a part of my practice, trying to stay present. It’s a practice that requires diligence, constant maintenance. Because just when you think you’ve got it, just when you release your attention…boom, you’re back in the windows. So what to do?
I find it helps to have little rituals. Here are some of my go-to practices as examples…
•Food Blessing: Sitting down to a meal (sitting, not standing!) and committing to 3 deep breaths. A moment of gratitude for the food I’m blessed to have on my table, and a small prayer mantra of gratitude. Presence.
•Nature Connection: While it’s ideal to get out IN nature and immerse ourselves in it, some days just getting out into the neighborhood for a walk or standing in the sun can have an immeasurable effect. Even when I’m standing at the crosswalk waiting for the light to turn, I make a habit of closing my eyes and feeling the sun on my face…really noticing the sensation of the breeze on my skin, the way it makes little strands of hair tickle my face. Presence.
•Meditation: While ideal, meditation does not HAVE to be twice daily for 20 minutes a sitting, in a dedicated space, like clockwork. While these circumstances are supreme in allowing time and space for deep stillness and silence, it’s not accessible to every person every day. So make space wherever you can. Space to close your eyes, quiet (quiet, not clear! The clearing comes later, hopefully) your mind, and BREATHE. First thing in the morning or last thing at night, in that space before a meal, after yoga practice or exercise, for the last 5 minutes of your lunch break, every time you go pee during the day (NOW we’re getting Holy!! Seriously though, that adds up! ANY time that is free of distraction and available for closed eyes and steady breathing…TAKE IT!), for a moment at a red light, when waiting for an appointment (when waiting for any reason, really…). Presence.
Those are just a few. I’m sure your brilliant Selves can come up with 100 more in just a breath. The point is, these tiny maneuvers in our daily lives can fortify our essence of presence tremendously. I am beginning to learn, in my practice, that I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. That’s the human condition…so how can we unravel the tightly wound way of life? How can we unspool the thread that is our moment-to-moment existence? How can we unwrite the “rules” that say we must do something a certain way for it to be “enough” or sufficient? By breathing. By moving into each moment with grace and ease. By continuing to remind ourselves to release what happened 5 minutes ago, it no longer belongs to us, but rather to the past. By continuing to remind ourselves that what will happen in 5 minutes does not yet belong to us. By continuing to remind ourselves, diligently, that our most prized possession is our very Self…in this very moment. Inhale. Exhale. Presence.