Be present. Enjoy the moment... probably sounds familiar, right?
There is a lot of buzz language that we use when it comes to mindfulness, meditation and the practice of yoga. These themes have been woven into popular culture, for better or worse.
But what does " being present" actually mean? How do you practice being present? What does being present feel like?
Let's play with the language a little bit and call it "Being in Your Experience".
Being in your experience means experiencing what is.
Let's take a simple example: Drinking your morning coffee. When you are drinking your morning coffee, you might be getting ready for work at the same time. You might be reading the paper and your mind might start to race to all of the things that you have to do that day. You might be texting or scrolling through your phone. Your shoulders might be hunched eating a muffin as fast as you can. Do you start telling a story about how your day is already going to play out? Do you begin to feel stressed?
How often are you actually in the experience of drinking your coffee?
You notice the taste of the coffee, the warmth on your tongue, the feeling of your hands on the mug. You begin to notice how your body is feeling in that moment. The tension you are holding in your shoulders and jaw, you feel the tension and focus on softening where you can. You notice your mind beginning to wander to the tasks ahead of you today and you take deep breaths and notice the sensation of breath moving through your body. You smile, sit and stay with your coffee until you are ready to consciously move on to your next task.
This is being in your experience and it is a practice. You can apply this level of awareness or mindfulness to each new moment. Each breath is an opportunity to come back to yourself and your human experience. Each moment, each interaction. You can either practice moving away from your experience and always being one step ahead of yourself or you can commit to your experience- exactly as it is.
One of my favourite books (a gift from a dear friend) is Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron. Comfortable with Uncertainty serves as a powerful reminder that being in your experience is not always going to be comfortable. Being in your experience means feeling your anger when it boils up, how it feels in your body. Noticing if you want to yell or scream or push someone and not reacting, sitting with it for a moment. Being in your experience means noticing when you begin to feel awkward and uncomfortable and your impulse is to run back into a safe place within yourself and hide. Being in your experience means facing yourself in that moment. When you begin to feel these emotions as uncomfortable as they can be, allowing them the space to be experienced. You may be surprised what happens from there.....
Being in your experience is a commitment. Try it while drinking your coffee or on your yoga mat or while driving to work. Be with yourself, fine tune your senses and awareness on the most subtle levels. Notice smells, textures, sounds and sensations. As your practice begins to grow you will find that you can apply the tools you have been developing to moments of challenge or uncertainty with more ease and grace.