I bet you hear that phrase thrown about all the time. But; what does being present actually look like or feel like? When we talk about relaxing into the now, what do we really mean, and how do we make it happen?
I wonder this sometimes myself. But recently I had a moment of complete clarity, and I’d love to share it with you.
As a back story: I have been working away at updating my website. Writing, creating, and learning. Learning a lot in fact as I create my own website for the first time. It’s fun and challenging.
A few weeks ago, I was on a roll. I had built up some good momentum. I had a plan of action. The kids had just gone back to school so I had time on my side – or so I thought.
But then, I was hit with a whopper of a sinus virus, complete with a throw-in-the-towel migraine. I panicked! I don’t have time to be without energy, stuck in bed; with massive head pain. I had a website to build AND I was starting Yoga School at the end of the week. To top it off, the kids were heading to their dad’s for a long weekend. These were my days of connection and special time with the kids and I was incapacitated.
My sweet kids gave me space when I needed it to rest and heal. They brought their voices down, played well together, and watched me warily, wondering when I would be my right self. I did my best to take care of myself but I couldn’t stop worrying about how little time we had together before they had to leave and that I might not get better in time for my yoga retreat.
And, then I became aware.
I stopped what I was doing (cooking dinner) and really listened to the kids play. I focused on the sounds of the house and took a deep breath. As I exhaled, I let go of the spatula and let my gaze take in the living room where both kids and cats were co-mingling happily. I let myself notice the space we live in, the home we have created together, the small artifacts of our lives.
This is a tool I’ve learned to bring me back to the present moment. Over the past few years I’ve made mindfulness a priority, but I often forget.
I let the thoughts in my head take me out of my body and out of the present moment. I noticed that my inner dialogue was stuck on repeat about what I was not able to get done, how I was falling behind where I wanted to be, and what I might miss out on if I didn’t get well fast enough.
Noticing allowed me to pay attention to the present.
What I noticed next was that if I slowed the obsessive thoughts in my head down enough, there was a lot more space. And, then I noticed that there was enough space in each moment to connect with the kids. The moments would be there if I just allowed them to be.
And, then there was a shift. It wasn’t tangible yet but it was there. As I focused on calming my mind the whole house seemed to hush. At least in that moment.
After dinner the kids cleared their spots and I remained in my seat just a moment longer, not rushing to the next thing. They both had an idea about practicing and showing me their new writing skills from school. The kids were quiet and close and intent on their creating.
I dropped into my body and seized the moment.
The room felt expansive, time felt expansive (as if it stood still), and suddenly we were all getting the nourishment that comes from deep connection.
It sounds so simple and yet it’s not. Without the self-awareness I wouldn’t have been able to notice what I needed to shift. I could let go of all the past thoughts and the future thoughts and see only the truth of the moment. Dropping into my body and feeling the moment I saw that there was enough: enough time, enough space, enough love.
It’s all there if we let it be.
So; the next time you find yourself caught up in past thoughts (shoulds, guilts, regrets) or future thoughts (anxiety, overwhelm, comparison) and unable to connect to now; give this a try:
- Pause from what you are doing (I promise it will just be for a moment); close your eyes; first allow your thoughts to just be without judgement; then kindly turn down their volume; feel yourself breathing in and out.
- Now, let your eyes open softly; begin to take in the immediate surroundings (what’s on your desk, the walls of the room, the sounds you hear outside your window, the smells, the temperature, the crunch of the leaves under your feet). Keep your gaze and attention close to begin with and then slowly expand your awareness to take in the whole room.
- Finally, bring your awareness back to your body. How do you feel? Maybe a little more relaxed, a little more spacious in your head, or even a little more clear and rejuvenated?
To learn more about being present, click HERE, to contact Jenn, a bainbridge island life coach for moms.