This past week, I flew out to Costa Rica on an adventure. I went to School of the World in Jaco, a place where you can be productive while on vacation. I decided to take spanish lessons and yoga classes, 2 of my top interests at the moment. I went, thinking I was going to improve my spanish and maybe deepen my yoga practice; however, what I got out of this trip was something I never expected. I learned to slow down, for the first time in my life. I met people who had such a sense of adventure, a joy for life. And it touched a very deep part of me that I have not been faithful to, a part that has been buried deep for so long. Hearing others stories of travel, seeing their dreams, their desires, learning their reason for travel, their life stories… it was beautiful. So many people coming from all over the world to one place, all for the same reason – to experience. To experience adventure, the beauty and love of other countries, a change in their lives… And it opened my eyes to the present. To allow myself to slow down, to not always rush around.
I have always listened to that voice, urging me to rush, to not stop and be in the moment. And there is that other voice, that always tells me to slow down. to be patient. to relax. and that loud voice of anxiousness has always, always won. Always afraid to let go, to let that silence overcome me. To sit still for 2 seconds, afraid of what thoughts might come crashing in. Afraid of that space, the space that allows one to be present and enjoy life. But not anymore. I have felt this shift happening within me the past few weeks; that gut feeling that things are changing, that I am changing. I am feeling more at peace, allowing myself to enjoy things I would always brush off and not care about. And that loud voice, telling me to always be on the go… it is scared. it is scared that it won’t be listened to anymore, lost in the silence it so greatly fears. And I am embracing it, slowly, cautiously catching glimpses of the peace that comes with just being.
As I lay on my yoga mat tonight in Shavasana, concentrating on my Ujjayi Breath, I chant the mantra **”I choose to enjoy this present moment. I choose to enjoy this present moment.” Hearing the breath come in and out of my nose, through my throat… Letting go of all tension in my face, my arms, my legs, I feel the energy running through my body. I am aware of the sounds around me, yet am somehow stepping out of my mind, aware of myself, my thoughts and how my body feels. And I realize, that I am present. It is so peaceful, yet so startling – I knew that this is how every person should feel – beautiful, at peace, an overwhelming feeling of love. It was just a quick glimpse in a short time, but it brought me such joy. It was like something shifted in me – I let go of having to be in control of every move and thought, focusing only on the sensation of my body and the sounds around me. I just WAS. I wasn’t a body, I wasn’t my thoughts… I was everything, and I was all around. I didn’t want to stop being in that moment – it was so refreshing, so new, so relaxing. Like taking a hot shower after a long day, or taking off your shoes after being on your feet all day. Relief. Something your body welcomes, that calm, that release of stress – it craves it, never wanting that feeling to go away.
Being present is hard. It is like learning a new way to live, a new way to breathe, a new way to run… learning a new language, to excel at a sport, to improve your posture. It will take time, but practice will make you better. Just sticking with it, and knowing that at your core being, you are love and joy. You are here, but are just bogged down with the thoughts of everyday life. So slow down. Focus on your breath. Develop a mantra. Take a few seconds to be aware of the present moment in the middle of your day.
You never know when your last moment on earth will be, so will it really matter if you are a few minutes late? Will it matter if that car cut you off? And does it make sense to worry about things that will most likely never happen? No, not really. Most everything can wait. And if you don’t know, just like anyone else on this earth does not know when their time is up, you might as well be enjoying the present moment while you are here. So take a longer detour, enjoy things you would normally pass by, be a few minutes late to work. Be here. Be aware. Others will pick up on your presence – and in the words of Marianne Williamson, “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
**I choose to enjoy this present moment mantra comes from the book of meditations, Expand this Moment, by John Selby. It is a simple meditation that you can say at any time in the day to bring you centered and back to the present moment (kind of like a coffee break for the mind :))
– “I choose” – enables you to assume control over your own mind
– “to enjoy” – specifies where you aim your attention – at enjoyment
– “this moment” – aims your attention at the immediate sensory events happening inside and around you right now