What did your body need yesterday? Do you remember? Can you recall where and what you ate with the aromas, sensations and tastes, and how you felt afterward both physically and emotionally? In what other ways did you nurture the body? Were you being present to listen to the body’s subtle messages and respond?
What clothing and colors did you wear and why? How did the fabric feel against the skin? Are you able to remember what sounds you heard or what music you played? What did you notice in nature? Do you remember offering kindness to another person or animal?
These questions are an example of being present, being awake and living in the present moment where our full attention is required. Easier said than done. So why can this be such a challenge?
The first of two reasons is many of our thoughts and attention get caught up in the past. When our attention is in the past, we are unable to be fully here in the now. We tend to live a rerun movie, over and over without changing our thought patterns or finding a resolution. Deepak Chopra says, “75% of your thoughts today are the same ones you had yesterday”. Consider how many times you think or obsess about something from the past, something painful, hurtful or an unresolved issue. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
Second, distractions prevail. We live in a fast-paced world that carries with it substantial sensory overload. Many live on automatic pilot going through the motions. When we numb out to the noise and clutter, we inadvertently close the senses, the lenses with which we experience the world. Much of the necessary energy and information we receive through our senses gets ignored. We are not fully awake or being present. I say, “See the world through the eyes and wonderment of a child and a whole new world unfolds.”
Another distraction and disruption to being present is multitasking. It has been reported that only 2% of the population is truly able to multitask. When the other 98% has their attention split in multiple directions simultaneously, they are not able to be fully present and attentive with any one experience, and therefore perform poorly.
On a personal note, one of my daily practices in being present and aware is meditation. It’s when I connect with my true Self and tap into the Source of my inspiration and creativity. It is the most valuable ritual in my life.
Another practice is eating. I’m not talking about just the act of eating itself but all of the preparation that goes into eating. What I am about to describe takes less than a minute. Before I even eat or decide what I’m going to eat, I take inventory. First, I scan how the body feels. I am tired or energized, out of balance or in balance. Foods can either soothe and support or aggravate how I am feeling.
Next, I notice if the weather is windy, cold, damp or hot. I know that what happens in nature is also happening inside the body and will effect how well I will digest the food and nourish the body. Ancient wisdom from the Upanishads teaches, “As is the human body so is the cosmic body. As is the human mind so is the cosmic mind”.
Then, I observe my emotional and mental state. My food choices will vary depending on if I am feeling scattered, challenged or centered, frustrated or calm, mentally cluttered or focused. I know all these factors will play a part in my food choices, and ultimately affecting my overall feeling of well-being. Before I consume the food, I give thanks and blessings.
In my programs, I include guiding clients in learning to be present, knowing that it is a process. I support them with the premise, “When you fall off the horse, you get back on”. The same goes with being present. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall off with distractions or living in the past. When you realize you did, then simply get back on. There is always another moment in life to be aware, to live fully and awake.