Every morning early, I sit in meditation for at least 20 minutes. Most days, it's twice as long. And now and again, it's only 10. It's a part of my morning routine, as unmissable as my first cappuccino. And it sets me up for the day.
Today, I was reflecting on why this practice has become so essential for me. To be honest, the power of being in the present and the positive effect it has on the rest of my day, continues to develop and to surprise me. Here's what I've discovered so far...
In the present moment there are quite simply no stories.
No losing oneself in thoughts and the incessant internal chatter like "What does she really think of me? Why is he doing this? I'm not sure I can do this. What if I fail? How am I going to solve this one? What if I had done things differently?..." and all the further thoughts and emotions that then grow arms and legs from here!
All there is in the present, is the air on your face, the ground under your feet, the clothes on your skin, the noises around you, your breath. Just being. There are also emotions and feelings. And thoughts. Which if you choose to allow them, will come and go, passing like clouds across the sky. No meaning. No interpretation. No evaluation. No attachment. Just thoughts. Just noticing. Cultivating awareness.
It requires practice. And patience. And gentle discipline.
Learn to follow your breath rather than get lost and tangled up in your chattering mind. Every time you you find yourself getting lost in thoughts, bring your awareness gently back to your breath. Don't judge yourself. It happens. Train yourself.
We rarely think our way into happiness.
More often than not we think our way into worry, stress, frustration, sadness and quite possibly at times, a living hell.
And our body does not know the difference between the physical reality of a threatening or difficult situation and one we imagine in the future or call to mind from memory. The physical and emotional response our body has is the same. To our body it is reality. Our body releases hormones and biochemicals in response to that threat, that 'reality'. Floods our system with a stress response or energy draining emotion. Which in turn fuels more thoughts of worry, anger, fear, regret. And invites yet more energy sapping emotions. It's a viscous circle. Which we break when we pull ourselves back - when we 're-mind' ourselves - to focus on the present moment. Only.
Return to the here and now.
Follow your breath, not your mind. Let your body come back into balance, to recharge and recuperate. Quieten your mind. Relax your body. Do this daily, through the practice of mindful meditation or awareness practice. Even just 10 minutes a day will nourish and benefit your system over time.
Tapping into the present enables me to step back and observe myself.
To consciously notice and to choose my thoughts, to work with my feelings, to focus and concentrate better and to deal more effectively with those very real difficult and challenging situations that are a normal part of life. From a place of clarity and space rather than from the grip of stress or emotion.
It allows me to free myself from my thoughts and patterns from the past and to disengage from a future which is more than likely just a repetition of my past. It enables me to envision, and to choose to be and do something new. The present is the place from which I create.
And the more I practice tapping in to the present moment, the easier it is to do it too in an instant, in the small moments, before and during my challenges. Integrating it into my active life rather than only doing it in the time I set aside for my daily practice.
In so doing, I take the calmness, focus and creativity of this state of being through into my choices, decisions and actions during my day. My presence is more effective.
Bonus: two simple 5 minute awareness practices
I've shared this before, but if you've not yet seen it or would like to be reminded, click here for two simple 5 minute awareness practices that can help you tap into the present moment, no matter how busy you are.