How to be “Present”

Is cross-legged and glassy-eyed a requirement? Must I stack smooth stones under a tree? Instead of “om” I find myself saying, “um…” Let’s start by chatting about what present feels like.

I was winter walking yesterday, and darn-near biffed it when my body started dancing to a song. With an embarrassed giggle, I turned the tunes off. Much safer! There is something about the quiet after a good snow. I started listening to my own breath and heartbeat. I was starting to feel present.

Usually when I walk, my eyes look a good half-block ahead, noticing cute lawns and decorating ideas. but I slipped on an icy patch (yikes!), so shifted my gaze to the spot right where my boot would hit next. That helped, and I began to feel even more present.

My mind became calm, my eyes softened and I started daydreaming. Pretty soon I was on a street that I didn’t recall turning onto. That is NOT what present feels like. So I focussed back to my breath, heartbeat, boots on snow, next step. Present.

This wasn’t a long walk - maybe 15 minutes - but I felt like I had taken a power nap and drank an espresso. I was both calm and focussed.

2,000 year-old yoga advice agrees that feeling present is vital - absolutely vital - to health and wellness. The Yoga Sutra begins by saying the most important part of yoga is that it ceases the fluctuations of the mind.

Now that you know how “present” feels to one person, try it out on your own body! Try a silent walk. Try prayer. Try meditation. Try yoga. Find something to cease the fluctuations of your mind for a few minutes.

Until next time,


NOTE: The Yoga Sutra is a book of 2,000 year-old life advice, not a religious text. Yoga is not a religion. To read this directly, it can be found in Yoga Sutra section 1.2

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