I woke up today feeling that my focus should be on staying present…and when I scrolled through my Instagram feed saw that the opening sentence of a post from one of my fave IG yogis, @kinoyoga, was “Give the gift of your full and total presence to everyone in your life, including yourself.” I knew at that moment this notion would be my platform for today’s post. From the minute I opened my eyes I felt like I needed to be reminded of the importance of being present and thought others could use that reminder too. And even as Kino goes on to state in her post, bringing attention to this issue is not to be critical or harsh. Life is FILLED with things to distract us. But as we tend to those distractions, life is passing us by.
Being present is something that in modern day culture I believe can be quite difficult…but yet another mindset that has been enhanced by my yoga practice and in turn enriched my life as a mom. Women in general, and mothers especially, are natural multitaskers (by necessity), and this requirement increases that difficulty of valuing the quality in any one single moment. But I’ve realized that not only do I owe it to my children to give them my full attention when they need it, but I owe it to myself to stay in the moment to truly experience the fullness of life. Through leading by example, being fully engaged when I am with them, I show them that the present moments matter, whether they are telling me about their day for the third time, or suffered a bump or bruise and need a hug. My youngest asked me to watch her ride her bike this afternoon. Although I felt eager to prepare dinner and make sure homework was complete before teaching this evening, I used this as a perfect opportunity to practice what I preach to my students. I took it a step further by leaving my phone in the house rather than using the time “watching” her ride her bike to answer my day’s worth of emails. It sparked a discussion with all three of my girls a half hour later about focusing our attention on what we were doing in that moment…either watch tv or draw…have a snack or do your homework…put the phones and iPads away at bedtime when it’s time to sleep. The time I spent talking with them, as well as the time I spent watching my baby ride her bike, are what stayed with me for the rest of the night. I can’t say I would be reflecting the same on preparing pasta and salad.
There are plenty of moments that are unpleasant or uncomfortable; moments we are eager to see pass. That is reality, but don’t bypass these moments or wish them away without trying to see if there is something to be learned. Every moment has the potential to give us something: joy, peace, comfort…and on the flip side sorrow, pain, anger. Positive or negative, there stands a chance that each moment can be a guide on how to get through it should history repeat itself (as it often does). Such can be said with yoga as well. Some poses are more difficult, more uncomfortable than others and that will vary based on the individual (level of experience, strength, flexibility). But can we learn to appreciate what those moments are telling us, about our physical bodies as well as our minds.
Like remembering to be grateful or remembering to breathe with intention, being present is easier said than done. It takes focus, concentration, discipline; all qualities which are strengthened through yoga. When I come to my mat, while I may feed off the energy of other students in the room, my practice is my own. I can use the past to track progress or check in with my body and how it’s feeling, but at the end of the day all you ever have is the present. Quieting of the easily distracted, incessantly moving “monkey mind,” referred to in Buddhism as “kapicitta,” requires attention and awareness. In almost every Bikram-style class I teach, the reminder to remain present in the room and not allow the mind to wander comes out in my dialogue. Most often this is during savasana, “corpse pose,” between the standing and floor series. It’s roughly a two minute resting pose where students can reconnect to the breath and refuel the body, as well as a great opportunity for me as a teacher to encourage them to let go of their performance (free of judgment) in the standing portion of the series, and not anticipate what may be coming next in the rest of the class…or what awaits when they leave the yoga room. All any of us ever have is the moment we’re in. How we choose to spend it, how we approach it mentally, is up to us. Be here now.
It’s all possible.