How many times during the day are you truly in the present moment? How many times are you mindful of your actions, your breath, your body, your thought processes?
For many of us, it is very few. We may move through our day on auto-pilot, dwelling on something from earlier, the day before, or last week. We may be busily planning into the future – what we are going to do when we finish work, at the weekend, or when our holidays arrive. Sometimes, we need to process earlier events, and sometimes we need to plan future events in order to move our lives forwards, but all the time??
To be in the moment is to be fully in the present, and this is a true gift. The present moment is the moment in which we can change everything; it is the time when we yoke together our body and our mind. All else is the mind moving forwards and back in time, being coloured by our attitudes, our beliefs, our hopes and our fears. If we rush through life towards the next goal, we are missing so much of the joy of life. We are not noticing the good things in every day – yes, every day. We may be missing the miracle of our breathing, of our ability to move and stretch our body, the fact that we have clothing, a home, loving family and friends – and we have all this right now. On our darkest days, these are the things that might bring a smile to our faces, and give us the courage to carry on. On our best days, these are the things that embody us, and keep our feet on the ground as our spirit soars.
On my first Jin Shin Jyutsu training, led by an inspirational teacher and healer, we were asked one morning how many conscious breaths we had taken since waking. Life can be such a rush, particularly when attending an intensive training course, that many of us had woken up, got ready and rushed to class. We then remedied that with a group practice of the 36 breaths – closing the eyes and focusing completely on each of 36 breaths. This is a practice I often repeat when I need to bring myself back to the present, and one which you can adapt if you find 36 too much to begin with. 9 breaths repeated 4 times through the day, or even just one set of 9 breaths in the morning, or whenever you need to bring yourself back to the moment, can make a big difference.
If you practise yoga, you will be used to tuning in to your body in asana practice, feeling the sensations that arise and the stillness within as you move into each posture. If you practise other exercises, you may find that they also help you to focus on your body, and to calm your mind. Any exercise or activity can be practised with more awareness, more mindfully, to bring you into the present. Whether you are walking, cooking, gardening, washing up, or cleaning the house, you can bring this attention to your actions and to your senses, bringing you fully into the moment, and helping you to become aware of the pleasure inherent in even mundane activities. And bringing you into the gift of the present.