“In spite of all similarities, every living situation has, like a newborn child, a new face, that has never been before and will never come again. It demands of you a reaction that cannot be prepared beforehand. It demands nothing of what is past. It demands presence, responsibility; it demands you.” ~ Martin Buber
So often in our life we are rarely here—in the now.
We are constantly thinking about actions of the past or the future. This habitual thinking becomes our norm. But what if our norm is one which denies us connection to our self and to others.
Think for a moment of the sheer joy we feel when we are fully present in the moment. When we are bathed in the love for our partner or our child. When we admire a magical sunset. When we listen to “that” song, and we dance in time to the oh-so-perfect rhythm. When we move in perfect synchronicity with our breath in yoga.
One of the most beautiful aspects of that yoga is that it allows us to drop into our bodies and to allow whatever may come. When strong emotions arise, such as anger or jealousy, we often suppress them with more work or general busyness. This however takes a lot of the body’s energy, and this can result in a very strong reaction occurring later in one’s life, due to a certain trigger.
Our bodies are our subconscious minds, and by holding the body in certain postures in yoga, we allow stored emotions to arise. By learning to observe these emotions without attaching to them we release them from our subconscious, mindfully and with awareness.
This awareness builds up the decision-making part of the brain. Allowing us to make better decisions in life and have better emotional regulation. When we connect fully with ourselves, and meet ourselves face to face in presence, we not only change the connection to ourselves but all connections in life change for the better.
Yoga is so much more than just a physical practice.
Here are 3 more ways of bringing more presence into our lives:
Breathe. When you wake up in a morning—before you jump out of bed and start your day—take the time for a few conscious breaths. I encourage you to place your hands onto your abdomen and feel the air coming into your nostrils, feel the abdomen rise, feel the abdomen fall and feel the air depart your nostrils. Take five full breaths in and five longer exhalations out. This will not only bring awareness to your breath but by taking a longer exhalation you are bringing your nervous system more into its calm state. This state becomes your norm for the day, helping you deal more cooly with everyday stressors that may arise.
Do one thing at a time. Instead of cleaning your teeth and walking around the house or making the tea and watching TV, take time to do just one thing. Set aside one activity each day, for example cleaning your teeth, and commit your full attention to this activity. Feel the brush against your teeth, tongue and gums—taste the flavour of the toothpaste—sense the pressure you are applying with your hand. Soon you will notice that not only the thoughts quieting down, but that even seemingly “mundane” things can provide wonderful moments of joy and silence.
Mindful listening. We have so many opportunities to practice this everyday! When someone is talking to us, how often are you really listening? So often, we are thinking about what we are going to say in return, mentally agreeing or disagreeing, or even judging the content of the conversation. So the next time your loved one, colleague or friend comes to talk to you, I encourage you to listen mindfully. Give all your attention to the speaker, and give them the space to speak and be heard. Try to empty your mind when a thought or opinion comes up, and listen with all your senses. You will start to notice how much deeper your connections become with people as you start to hear their need behind the words. Life is about a series of connections with people, so deepening these connections are a wonderful and rare gift.
This article has been published on Elephant Journal.