How much are we really present in our day-to-day life? Are we taking it all in- I mean really taking it in, being here now- or is it passing us by as we go through the motions?
I catch myself lately, standing in the middle of an imaginary checklist which also resembles the giant belt of a treadmill. As I run and items are checked off, more appear. The treadmill never shuts off. This isn't to say that I don't enjoy most of what the treadmill calls for: a sweaty workout, learning how to organize my website, attending play-dates, playing restaurant with my kids... But sometimes I'm overcome with this distinct feeling that I'm somehow missing something. I'm so concerned with not falling off of that treadmill, that sometimes it feels as if I'm not really experiencing my life.
A few posts back, I wrote about letting go of the unconscious, obsessive need to DO something. What I was referring to in that post was the difference between having to do something out of fear, rather than simply being out of love.
Now, I would just like to acknowledge the lack of presence we can sometimes have in our day-to-day existence. We're attempting to re-live moments already passed, we're worried about what is to come, and so we check out of the only moment that matters- right now.
I've developed a rather insidious habit of reaching for my cell phone through out the day. And no, not because it is ringing. It's become an unconscious habit, something I do to mentally check out of whatever is occurring in the present moment. I suppose, in many ways, this compulsive addiction I have could fit into what I've written about before. I undoubtedly have patterns and fears. As these fears are triggered in my day, I "run" away by tuning out what is around me. I escape into the world of technology and the ever-hypnotic screen. I shut myself off from the possibility of resolving or working through my fears, and allowing the feelings that I need to feel to rise up.
I could sink deep and low into the guilt and shame I feel about my addiction. Because I have to be honest here and say that this is classified as an addiction. I could listen to the voice in my head railing against me about how much more productive I could be if I wasn't forever distracted by this little piece of technology. About what a terrible mother I am for not being 100% present to my kids. About how laughable it is that I have to admit I am addicted to an iPhone. Or, I could breathe deeply, find some compassion for myself, acknowledge that there's some work to do and some feelings to feel, and get to it.
The plan I've developed to more consistently come back to the power of now involves what most addicts must adhere to: knowing the triggers, and feeling what needs to be felt rather than numbing out. We can really only move past a pattern of fear if we stop blocking ourselves off from feeling, however painful the emotion might be.
But what can we all do to anchor ourselves into the moment, when we feel ourselves mentally shutting down, tuning out, or on the verge of running? What can we do to alleviate the feeling that we're just on this treadmill, trying not to fall off?
Tune into your senses.
Reach out your hands, what can you feel?
Close your eyes and really feel whatever is beneath your fingertips.
What's beneath your feet?
Can you take your shoes and socks off and connect with your skin?
Take a moment to roll your feet from heel to toes, connecting each part of your foot to the ground.
Open your eyes, what's around you?
Notice how vivid the colours are, or how the light plays off of your surroundings.
What do you smell? Breathe in and appreciate the air filling your lungs.
Stay with whatever moment you are in.
Rather than immediately labelling the feeling in your chest or stomach as something unpleasant, think of it as a sensation to experience. You're safe, this sensation can't hurt you, it is an energy moving up. If you allow it safe passage rather than fighting it, it will soon be on its way out.
If I am in my body, and more consciously aware of my surroundings and senses, I can easily find more gratitude for the gorgeous blessing that is my life. The treadmill doesn't cease to exist, but the fear of falling off of it does. Try really being present to a sunset and not be in awe, I dare you. If I come back to these same senses when I feel myself triggered by a fear taking me out of the moment, then I can anchor into my body and ride out that wave, letting the feeling pass through.
What's taking you away from your present moment, your life? Join me and let's re-engage our senses and feelings.
Oh, and one more thing: it's okay to fall off of that treadmill. The fear of it happening is far worse than when it actually does. Besides, no one can sustain running on that thing forever, anyhow. Any good athlete will tell you that cross-training is crucial for injury prevention and performance, so at the very least, let's take this run outside!
Sat Nam and Light,