In the yoga world, a common theme is to “be present.” Be present in your breath, in your poses, in your thoughts. Then we’re taught to take that presence and let it transcend into our lives (aka “off the mat”). As a newer yogi, I struggled for awhile to figure out how exactly the concept of presence could permeate my life.
I am a big routine person, as much as I hate to admit it. I’d love to be that spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl, but alas, it’s not in my DNA. The disconnect though is that I strive to be more spontaneous, because it would force me to be present on the situation unfolding. Get it? So, my schedule is the same every week. I serve at a golf course on Tuesdays, Wednesday mornings, and Fridays. I teach yoga on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays/Saturdays. Sunday is my day of rest & unwinding. I also balance an my own online fitness business. So- busy right? Right. But routine. Meaning I’ve found myself mentally “checking out” during my drives to work, in the evening with my husband, in the mornings I have off.
The only time I feel like I really am present is on my yoga mat. Not at the grocery store or the dentist, or even interacting with the people I see at the golf course. Non-presence is the equivalent to being on auto-pilot. It’s like, deep down, we truly know that our lives could (and do) shift every day, whether in a small or a life-altering way. Yet we breeze around the surface, floating in and out of daily interactions with the given that this moment will be here tomorrow.
Except it won’t.
Sure, you may luck out that you get YEARS of doing the same thing, talking to the same people, and virtually living the same life. But some day, whether you plan on it or not, things change. It’s my theory that the more present you become in your daily life, the more you see those changes coming & are able to react in a way that you CHOOSE, not in a knee-jerk type of way. But of course, in some cases that’s totally not the case. Let’s take an example: your job suddenly is phased out.
You like your job. You show up every day, do your work, and go home. Repeat, repeat, repeat. One day, “out of the blue” you get a notice that your entire department is being eliminated and in 30 days you’re unemployed. Knee-jerk reaction? Anger, frustration, worry, blame, guilt, shame. Pause, let’s look back. Were there ANY signs that your position might be no-more? An odd email, undertones in conversations.. signs that might make YOU ask questions before the big ball drop. Maybe so. It all comes down to presence. Being un-present in your job can be easy to do, but at what cost? Take a breath, BE where you are, notice your surroundings, & tune inward to have the wisdom to know the difference between life shifts that you can and cannot change.
So what does presence come down to for me? Taking a deep breathe in that grocery store, in that dentist’s chair, before a conversation with a co-worker. Because life goes by fast. Time files. All you have of the past are memories, so don’t taint them by being too wrapped up in another moment to notice the one you’re in.
It’s a lifelong journey. But so are many things worth having.