I am not one who finds it easy to be present. I think a lot of people can relate? We live in a world of Google calendars; busy schedules of ‘nexts’ (appointments next Tuesday, lunch meetings next week, dinner plans the Saturday after next); serious multitasking; killing multiple birds with one stone. I, myself, am constantly looking forward to that something fun I’ve scheduled (I schedule a lot of fun), which is great, it helps ease oneself into a Monday a lot more gracefully. However, the downside is that you’re always looking ahead, and not currently where your feet are planted.
I also struggle with anxiety. Go figure. Before I gave it (anxiety) a name, I would somehow breath through mild panics and tell myself that what I was feeling was useless and not serving myself. I would rationalize myself out of those nervous feelings, out of the depths of that brain darkness, with mild success. It was about keeping busy so as to not be able to feed the anxiety with further thinking.
Thinking fans the flames of anxiety.
Now? Now I’m still human last I checked, and so, I still deal with anxiety. Yay. But. But, being present, if we’re sticking to metaphors, extinguishes those anxiety flames.
I have done much work to learn to be present (I have read a lot, anything Eckhart Tolle is a good start). There are simple tiny tricks, sometimes I’m not even aware I’m bringing myself back into the moment. Heck, writing that sentence, now this one, and this word, and this, good Lord, look at me go being all present and shit… That is to say, writing/typing, now that I’m really thinking about it, is an act of being present. I am focused on what I’m trying to communicate and transferring it to the page, in every present moment. I am aware of the touch of my laptop keys, how they feel under the tips of my fingers. The sounds they make. The simple tricks I suppose I’m referring to are the ones that involve the senses and how they are experienced with your surrounding world (focusing on your breath, nearby sounds, smells, etc).
It’s about bringing awareness to your existence, which consequently takes you out of your thoughts, clears the mind, and brings you to the moment of here and now.
I have also taken more grand measures to learn to be present. I was unemployed four years ago for half a year. That time was tough. I constantly felt like a failure, but tried my damnedest to look at the situation as a summer holiday most adults (barring those in the teaching profession) don’t get. Still, summer holiday or no, there wasn’t an income, and believe you me when I say that that wreaked all kinds of anxiety-ridden havoc.
I signed up for a group mindfulness meditation nine week course. It was a smart choice. Over the course of the nine weeks using a lot of Jon Kabat-Zinn‘s practices and teachings, we developed a lot of techniques for a wide variety of human stuff. My worrying, aka anxiety. People’s physical pain. Stress of every kind the group dealt with. It was a safe place where we learned how to become aware, how to respond to our environments/people that induced stress. It was very beneficial, however that was four years ago. And though I still use some of the techniques learned, it’s easy to forget. Mindfulness is work. You have to work for peace constantly.
The process of getting there is the quality of being there
Like an M.C. Escher mind bending picture, but with words.
Finding peace in every moment.