I have two members of my family that have the annoying habit of saying I’m listening, when they are so clearly not. I won’t mention them by name, you know who you are. When I’m talking they will either be trying to text, type on the computer or looking around, probably for something more interesting.
When I teach yoga I try to be present and alert. This is my motto. But what exactly is being present? This much maligned motto of the spiritual world appears to be a lot more than just being there in your body. Being present, showing up, means you are are there heart, body and spirit. The time you are most present is when you are in your element, doing what you love. This has a moniker of ‘being in the flow’. But how do we stay present for the minutiae of life, the seemingly boring endless tasks of making a living and caring for yourself and others?
Here are my guidelines to being in the moment.
Try to do one thing at a time. This is especially important if you are a quick thinking, hair brained creative, vata, type like myself. This means not eating and watching tv. Not cleaning your teeth and putting on your shoes. Not talking on the phone and cooking dinner.
When you listen to someone speak pretend you have a mute button. The mute button can be taken off when the speaker has finished. It can’t be taken off because you have something more important to say. If you are listening to someone speak but just for the space when you can speak, you are not being present to them.
Recognise when you tend to lean forward to the next moment. We all do this. We have this moment now but we really want the next moment more. The next job, party, mouthful, trip, kiss. If you are not here for this moment now where do you think you are exactly? Nowhere is precise.
Remember the moment you are in is the only moment that you actually have. Your fantasies of the future or the past are all made up by your mind. They don’t exist. They are not real. Therefore if you are grasping for the future of clinging to the past you are missing the sweet spot, that is now.
Keep a check in on how you are. Are you really hungry, thirsty or just bored, lonely, stressed, angry or sad. Do you really want to stare at the computer for hours or are you just tired? Any mechanisms or avoidance techniques we use in our life are cheap and semi-effective strategies for avoiding the moment. This is the quick route to developing a neuroses. Just feel and acknowledge what it is your feel right now and then move on.
Here is one of my favourite poems from Yogi Bhajan
Life is flowing
moment to moment…
Flow with it.
And be sheltered from the hassles
of time and space.
Life is full of power
Practice for today: When you feel yourself not being present, tug yourself back to the now. This is where all the magic happens and you don’t want to miss it.