Being Present—It’s All GOOD
By Lori Flynn
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin
I teach yoga. As a yoga teacher, it is my passion to guide people into the present moment, help them watch their thoughts and start to feel and sense rather than spend so much time “thinking.”
The meditation and movement work we do in a 75-minute class, over time, begins to find its way into the lives of students in the world outside of the yoga studio. It is through this work that we begin to notice the “ruts” our thoughts create in our lives and the automatic responses that follow certain triggers.
At first, this can be frightening for people. Many people approach yoga as a strictly physical practice. When I lead a meditation at the beginning of class I can almost hear the mind chatter of students. Once it begins to die down, there is a calmness that takes over the room—followed quickly by a panic of sorts: eyes suddenly opening, nervous glancing around the room, hair fixing and outfit manipulations.
After a few classes, though, a new student begins to settle quickly into the meditation and remains calm for the 8-10 minute period of stillness. Week after week, students return, their small talk at the beginning of class evolving from “Hi. How are you? I am fine,” to “I’ve had some major shifts in my life in the way that I’ve been dealing with stress at my job.”
When we start any practice centered around the concept of watching the mind, a new world opens to us. We first are met with the concept of what is commonly referred to as the “witness consciousness.”
As soon as we notice we are “watching our thoughts,” we are faced with the question of WHO is watching. Am I not my thoughts? If not, what ARE these things?
It is our minds’ duties to create stories and assist us in making sense of the world. Once we start to tune in to that process, the new territory can be both thrilling and scary. We are creatures of habit and can be extremely attached to our coping mechanisms, crutches, addictions and behaviors. Without taking the time to sit with ourselves for even a few minutes a day, these deep ruts can actually nurture behaviors that are no longer serving us. This is what drives us crazy.
When we learn to be present with our thoughts, we can start to look at the way we integrate experience into our lives. If we are not seeing the results that make us feel safe, secure and valued, we can pinpoint a reaction to our thought stream that is no longer serving us.
Then, we can start to experiment with new ways of “being” in our own lives. The good news is that because what we’ve been doing up until now isn’t working for us anymore, we get to try any number of approaches that just might. The ‘not so good at first’ news is that it is scary. Changing life-long habits requires stepping out of a comfort zone. But think about it—is it really that comfy if we’re seeking a way out? Probably not.
We live in a busy world of reactive decision-making. Remember to take time for yourself throughout the day to simply take a deep breath and stop for a minute. You really don’t need any formal guidance to simply sit, tune in to your own thoughts and bring yourself into the present moment.
If you want to explore and go deeper, then certainly shop around for a teacher and practice that resonates with you. Either way, giving yourself the gift of knowing yourself and integrating daily experience into your personal evolutionary path is one of the best things you can do for your physical, emotional and spiritual health.