How to live with presence

“Busyness is the greatest distraction from living, as we coast through our lives day after day, showing up for our obligations but being absent from our selves.” Annie Dillard

Being busy is an inevitable part of life – we must after all fill our hours and days with something. But while you are busy doing, you must also allow yourself to be. You are not an automaton, carrying out processes. Yoga is just one way to keep bringing ourselves back to this truth.

What keeps us from happiness is the striving for happiness – our inability to fully inhabit the present.

What does it mean to be present? We can only experience the present. Experience is the actual living through an event, as contrasted to the ideal or imaginary. In contrast, the past and future are entirely abstract and conceptual elements – analysis, judgment, inference, deduction. Try as you might, these can’t be tasted, smelled, felt, seen, heard, or enjoyed in any meaningful way.

Here are 3 reminders to help you be more present in your life. Inspired by the Every Day Matters diary:

  1. Use your senses. Our senses connect us to the present. Match each weekday with one sense, perhaps sight on Monday, hearing on Tuesday, etc. Whenever you become distracted from the present, tune in to that sense and focus on what you’re experiencing. Immerse yourself in the moment. You can practise this on and off your yoga mat.
  1. List the amazing. Today’s the only day! It’s not over (like days past) and it’s not unknown (like days to come). Today matters most, so take note of what’s wonderful about it. At the end of each day, make a list of that day’s top ten highlights – what a wonderful way to drift off to sleep!
  1. Take a free day! Planning is important, but sometimes it can lead you to focus so much on what’s to come that you don’t enjoy what’s happening right now. Make one day this week a free day: no to-do list, no calendar, no scheduled appointments. You could  start by giving yourself a day out of Birmingham, or  wherever you’re usually busy auto-piloting. Enjoy the natural rhythm of the day as it unfolds, see where it takes you.

Happy inhabiting the present, time-beings!