Sunday, March 31, 2013

Being Present, Being Mindful

One of the things that this time has given me is time.  One of the things that yoga has given me is the ability to be present, to be mindful.  And what a beautiful combination time, presence and mindfulness are.

Jon Kabat-Zinn writes about Mindfulness in Wherever You Go There You Are:
"The key to this path which lies in the root of Buddhism  Taoism and yoga, and which we also find in the works of people like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman and in Native American wisdom, is an appreciation for the present moment and the cultivation of an intimate relationship with it through continual attending to it with care and discernment.  It is the direct opposite of taking life for granted."
I know about and have taught students about active listening, the importance of being present to who you are engaging with, to being present in that moment.  With the rushing by of life, being constantly pulled in a number of different directions at any given moment it becomes really challenging to be present for everyone who needs you to be.  I have recently learned what it means to not take life for granted.  I have learned, well relearned and newly implemented,  that if I am able to take care of myself, treat myself with the love and kindness that I deserve then I can fully be present for and mindful in all of my daily interactions.  
I say to people all of the time, "You are no good to others if you are not taking care of yourself."  In the work I have done with students I try to be a role model in this area, though my last position made that very difficult for me at times.  I have spent a lot of time since September taking care of myself, figuring out what I need and want and this has all allowed me to be so much more present and engaged with other people in my life.  I believe that this time has truly served me in this way.  My yoga practice has certainly supported this.  This taking care of me, this being much more introspective, this has truly served me. The extrovert that I am, this person who can multi-task because my head can be in a dozen different places at once has learned to quiet my mind.  I have also learned to be more present as I walk down the street, to take in what surrounds me and to value each interaction I have in my community. With presence comes mindfulness.  This mindfulness shows up daily in many different ways even when I am eating or drinking as well as the interactions I have in my community.  With this mindfulness comes deeper relationships with people I have known for years as well as people I have known for weeks.  Being mindful, being present and filling my time with this positive way of being has all contributed to me becoming a better version of me.

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.  I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars." 
~ Thoreau, Walden


  1. I agree, mindfulness makes everything better! I am lucky that focusing on small tasks and interactions is sort of my natural inclination. I think it might be that way for many of us but I feel like the dominate society frowns on this. I mean, we have this idea that we're supposed to get so many things done in a day, including leisure activities, that we can barely enjoy the things while we do them.

    For example, I am actually terrible at multitasking which is such a challenge because I work in a small retail business and we have soooo many things to do at once. I feel appreciated at my job, but I also feel inadequate- like I can't ever do as much as other people. :-(

    Just writing this makes me realize this is an opportunity to be happier at work by stopping comparing myself to others.

    I love your blog! Thanks for this post. I'll be sure to visit again.

    1. Thanks Olivia! And remember that we all have different strengths and if yours is being mindful and present, that's pretty awesome! Though necessary sometimes, being a multi-tasker does not always serve ourselves and others as well as we think it should.

      Thanks for reading!