In yoga classes, there’s often mention of “being in the moment”. You know the cues, the ones that tell you to ground into your feet and really feel the earth; to pay attention to your breath and stay present; to turn your awareness inward. If I were to add together all the classes I’ve ever taken, with all of the classes I’ve ever taught, and then counted the times I heard someone (including myself) talk about being present and in the moment, I would have nowhere near enough fingers and toes to keep track.
But with all of this encouragement to stay in the here and now, how many of us a) really understand what that means and b) have really, authentically figured out how to do it?
This is my current practice: looking at NOW and letting it determine my happiness. Sometimes a check list can be helpful to stay on track:
– Are my current surroundings comfortable and supportive to my overall wellbeing?
– In this moment, is my body healthy? Is my mind healthy?
– Is there anything happening right now, taking away from my general state of contentment, that I have direct control over to change? If so, do something. If not, let it go.
But I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to letting expectations, apprehensions, fear and projection take over the here and now. For example, I’ve caught myself getting prematurely stressed out and fatigued just thinking about my fall work schedule, despite the fact that I am still on a rare, short vacation which deserves my full attention! When I dwell on what’s ahead and let it overshadow what’s happening right now (eating a croissant, sitting in the sun), it’s easy to let those feelings of worry and doubt diminish the fact that in the present, there is really nothing to be concerned about.
The same can happen when we do silly things like fixate on something in the past: what you said to a friend that you worry they misinterpreted, and now you feel like you’re in the wrong, or conversely, the fabulous moment of jubilation in a yoga class where you held a certain pose for the first time, that you can’t seem to get into again, and its fleeting ease is now haunting you on a daily basis. Both our mistakes and our achievements can pull us out of the present moment, and keep us from being 100% committed to what is happening right here, right now.
As we head into a time of new beginnings, going back to school or back to work after summer holidays, it’s easy to slip out of the present. In my classes this week, I’ve noticed students in savasana are more restless than usual, as “to-do list syndrome” starts to take over. I was particularly grateful to see someone post a video online a few days ago, targeted at women who have a hard time letting go of the need to do more and be more, which espoused the benefits of a “To DON’T DO list”…something I’ve never before thought to make! [It’s a must watch…find it here!]
I’m heading into the final days of summer with an intention to keep checking in with myself, especially at times where I feel the doom and gloom mindset taking over. More often than not, the stuff that begins to cloud my mood hasn’t even happened yet, and shouldn’t be stealing the thunder from all of the good things happening right now. So whatever you have planned this long weekend, I encourage you to make the most of it and experience each minute without also dwelling on what reality will look like Tuesday morning. We’re not there yet. We’re here. So we may as well enjoy ourselves!