Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Be Here Now

Sunrise, Biscayne Bay, Miami, October, 1999

Quote of the month:

Be here now.

- Ram Dass

Have you ever had the experience when arriving somewhere driving.....  you cannot remember how you got there?

Have you ever read a page of a book, magazine (or even a blog post!).... and at the bottom have to go back and re-read because your mind went somewhere else mid-way through?

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and suddenly realized you didn't hear the last thing they said.... and they are waiting for a response from you?

Or in reverse - have you ever been talking to someone and you can tell that they are not hearing you or just are not "there?"

We have all done these things at times. This isn't a judgment or statement about that in any way. I simply want to suggest an explanation and alternative.  

The reason these things happen is that we are not as Present as we could be in our daily lives. What does that mean? It simply means that our bodies are in one place and our minds are in another. If our minds are not where our bodies are, then where are they?  Usually they are either somewhere in the past or somewhere in the future. Possibly going over a mental to do list or rehashing a conversation you had with someone. If you watch closely, in the second scenario, the mind will often be judging the conversation.... telling you what you said right or wrong. Telling you that the other person was "an idiot," or whatever it is that your mind tells you.

One of the problems with not being Present is that you are missing your life. Life is what is in front of you.... right here.... and right now as the Ram Dass quote suggests above. The way not to miss your life is to bring your full attention to what ever is in front of you. It is not difficult. One of the things I like best about it is that it is Simple! It only seems difficult because we have not been raised this way. Our culture tells us we must "cover all bases," multitask, and be all things to all people. You can still do that if you like.... but my suggestion this month is to once in a while bring your full attention, even if just for a few seconds, to what ever you are doing at this moment. Focus your attention on this word..... THIS WORD.... THIS WORD.... that you are reading.... here and now!

Another suggestion - do not try to force your mind to do anything. It is similar to redirecting a small child. When a two year old wants to do something the parent does not want them to do - you can tell the child, "No!" This will generally create a greater desire on the part of the child to want to do whatever it is NOT supposed to do, even more - OR - you can get the child interested in something else. This second method also helps when your mind is going into overdrive on some issue that is not in front of you at the moment. Use your senses to experience what is here - now! Leonard Jacobson in Journey into Now suggests to, "Bring yourself Present with that which is already here." You can do this by using your senses. According to Leonard, anything that you can see, hear, smell, taste or touch is actually here now. Use your senses to experience it here and now too.

Here are a few suggestions....
  • Look your child in the eye and notice the color of their eyes.
  • On the drive to work, watch the sunrise! (I did back in October of 1999 in the photo above and it has become the photo representing this blog!)
  • Notice the color of sky or shape of clouds when you are outside.
  • Feel the sensation of the soap bubbles when you are washing the dishes.
  • Fold clothing the way my friend does, like you have nothing else to do,
  • Feel the chair under you at this very moment or if you are standing feel what is under your feet.
  • Smell and taste may not be as accessible depending where you are, but use these fully when you can. According to Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Savor, most of us have denied ourselves the many delights present in the simple act of eating an apple... or anything else we may be eating!  
  • Listen for sounds around you - I can hear crickets right now and the fan on my computer.
See how these simple acts make a difference.  Experiment with it in your own life... and then please share your experiences below in the comments!

Until next month,
Keep it simple!



Laura said...

Of course as always you are spot on. those out of body experiences when I wonder how did I get from point A to point B while in the car and not remember stop lights or turning. Very scary. I am working on living in the moment of each day. Being grateful for those moments. Keep up the great work Penelope!

Penelope said...

Thank you Laura! I always appreciate your feedback and comments!

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