Have you ever noticed how rarely we are truly, mindfully present in our every day life?
Our mind has this tendency to always either linger in the past or makes up possible scenarios for the future. The further away in the future a possible event is the easier it is for us to imagine something great and fantastic to happen - aka I will be a millionaire one day. However, the closer an event gets the more negative we tend to think about it and we imagine all kind of possible ways things can and will go wrong. I call this the “Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole” effect because our mind is so good at making up stuff, it’s very creative in imagining horror scenarios and hundreds of different ways things could go wrong. It seems like this way of thinking is a sort of a protective mechanism because if you are prepared for the worst nothing can throw you off, right?
But you know what? That’s just not true! Have you ever noticed how much we worry about things and about our future but how little of these actually come true? How often are we more scared of the thought of something happening than the actual event? How often do we imagine problems to arise that never occur?
The truth is both past and future are a land we cannot travel. All we have is the here and now. That’s what’s real. That’s what’s true. The present is the only place you truly are in charge of, where you can make actual decisions. And yet, we find it so difficult to be truly present. It`s not what we are used to and it is certainly not something our culture or education has thought us. But think about it. The past is in the past, nothing you do will change that. And the future is simply a present moment waiting to happen, not yet defined, not yet certain. If we always worry about the future we will miss that moment when it becomes our present since our mind will already be busy imagining another point in the future.
I had a lot of chances to think about the importance of being present in the past weeks and months. On the one hand I am teaching present moment awareness to my students in my classes. On the other hand I am pregnant right now, in fact I am at the very end of my pregnancy. It`s a funny state to be because this baby could literally come at any moment or wait another 4 weeks to arrive. That is a big gap! There are so many questions - is it the right time to slow down for me now? What will happen if I am not teaching all the time? When will the baby arrive? Do I need to rest or am I just lazy? It can feel very difficult to “know” what we feel in the present moment compare to what we “think” we feel.
In my experience the best way to become present is to close my eyes, drop into my body and to breathe. Just breathe. Listening to my breath, observe it, notice the quality. Feeling the belly rise whenever I inhale and sink whenever I exhale. Allowing myself to drop into my body. To feel. Becoming aware of all the different sensations. Notice the ground beneath and the sounds around me. To be truly present, to simply observe what is without any judgement, without assessing a situation or sensation as good or bad, right or wrong - that is the biggest lesson I have learned through yoga. We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We can handle a lot of things. We are resilient. When we fall we get up and keep on going. Do not waste your time worrying about things that you cannot change, do not fear the future. Be present. Trust in your own abilities to overcome. Allow yourself to be truly present. For that is where true strength arises.
Photos by Geraldine Faude.