Presence is a Present theme…
We were honoured and deeply lucky to be present in a workshop a few years ago with one of our Gurus, who chose to theme the session on the topic of time. It was awe inspiring and thought provoking.
The concept of time is so mind blowing. We are in the moment here and now, but no sooner have you read this, then that moment is gone. Never to be regained. Never to be lived again. And now is another moment; yet that, too has just slipped by. Never to be retrieved.
‘Of course, the moment during which you read that sentence is no longer happening. This one is. In other words, it feels as though time flows, in the sense that the present is constantly updating itself. We have a deep intuition that the future is open until it becomes present and that the past is fixed.’
The clue lies in the phrase ‘spending’ time. If we go into a shop and purchase an item; we spend our money; it’s an exchange. Our purchases of time; how we go about living our lives and ‘spending’ our time are literally an exchange of energies. These time transactions are non-refundable and non-returnable. They are the most important investment we’ll ever make, yet many of us; too many in our opinion, are spending these energies mindlessly, fruitlessly; being in places we don’t want to be in, doing things we don’t necessarily want to do.
It’s the famous question, isn’t it? What would you do if you won the million-pound jackpot? But, we got the greatest prize of all; the miracle of life. Yet we’ve been taught to forget this fact.
And to top it all, most us have conditioned ourselves to switch off entirely from being present. We want to spend our time ignoring the deep-rooted emotions, in fact, most of us want to ignore the surface sensations. We consciously redirect our senses; add some distractions, keep ourselves busy, switch the TV on in the background, eat certain foods, go out, shop, buy etc. Anything to avoid really feeling how we are. Anything to keep our senses falling to the fact that this moment, now is going, going, gone. Never to be again.
How many of us are human beings instead of human doings?
Yes, if we’re lucky we’ll get to live for maybe 75 years. Some people tell us it’s okay; they’ll be able to do what they really want (rest, move, relax, switch off, be with loved ones) when they retire. But is that okay? Are they happy to live unconsciously for 65 years of their life to then have to try and orient themselves into the here and now for 10, maybe 20 years? Is that what their life’s purpose is? Is that even going to be possible? Meditation and Yoga are lifelong practices and there is no end where one can say they have “achieved” true mastery over either. The practices keep opening; continually shifting, unwinding and expanding so the goalpost always shifts, further secrets are revealed, and the practice goes on forever and ever.
So, when you realise that time is the most precious commodity and that life is falling softly, softly away, what can we you consciously do to make things better? How can you practice conscious presence?
One blog piece isn’t enough to cover this topic and actually ‘presence over presents’ or as we phrase it ‘presence is the present’ could be covered by a couple of hundred books! But generally, meditation is the answer.
Because meditation gets us present, to the here and now. It aligns us to ourselves, without distractions. It reveals the core of who we are. And the more we practice it, the more life reveals its majesty and the more fulfilled we become without the desire and reliance for material goods.
Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts. You may want to re-read that sentence.
Meditation has nothing to do with silencing the inner voice of the monkey mind. Good luck to you if that’s your mission! You’re a better person than us if you can stop that chitter chatter inner critic even for a few consecutive moments!
No, meditation is, to us, about allowing space around the thoughts and the feelings that arise.
It’s about providing space to be.
Allowing space for everything just to settle.
And that feels like true presence.
If one can master the practice of meditation and learn to incorporate it into their daily life for five minutes a day, then one will feel present. Then one feels like they have received the greatest present.
Because if we don’t allow space and we don’t accept what arises in the here and now, if instead we practice distraction or denial, what happens is that we live a lie. The thoughts and feelings become stuck or dug deep within.
It’s like storing what we don’t want into the back of a drawer. We may forget it’s there. Try adding more items into the drawer and you might have to compact them down, smaller and smaller. To fit it all in, you squish it all up. Things become distorted. But eventually the drawer is going to break, and that item will appear; it might be barely recognisable. But it will reappear.
In storing things rather than processing them and understanding them in the moments of presence, we deny ourselves the joy of being authentically here. Painful situations will repeat themselves in order, so we may learn from them. For now, let’s just say that in storing this stuff, we don’t allow anything to travel through us. We feel emotionally stuck or cut off from source. Which will only lead to even less presence.
So, in order to provide space, you can do some simple practices:
Allow yourself ‘you’ time away from all distractions. If you are a parent, try to give yourself 5 minutes per day where you can be alone. Just sit and allow everything to be.
Practice gratitude. Our commercial western world has hopes of cashing in on this practice, but you don’t require a ‘gratitude journal’ or any special tools. You can simply think about 2 things a day you are grateful for. Doesn’t matter what. Just something that you are truly thankful for. Try to count your blessings. Every. Single. Day. And it doesn’t matter if they are the same things some days. Practice gratitude without judgment.
Breathe. Deeper. Try to practice conscious breath at least for one minute a day. Sometimes you can slow the breath, pause the breath, lengthen the exhale, pause on an inhale, whatever you choose. Even just coaxing the mind to the breath; where is it today? Are you breathing into the nose, throat or belly? Are they expansive breaths or shallow? Again; no judgement.