The last entry involved remembering who we are. This entry is about when and where we are. To be present is to be conscious in our body, in this moment. This sounds so very simple and rudimentary. But in today’s busy society, we rarely are completely present.
While meditating and attempting to be present, I consciously bring my attention to my breath coming in and out of my body. I observe my body sitting in the chair, allowing my consciousness to scan from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, each area, paying special attention to the areas where my body comes into contact with the environment: the chair, the floor, the air around me. Next, I widen my conscious perspective to take in my entire body, here, in this chair now, breathing in and out.
This whole experience or exercise in presence, only takes a few moments. I like the sensations, I feel myself relaxing even while focusing my attention on what I am doing in each moment. And then it happens, my mind wanders for a split second. A conversation at work, a chore I need to complete at home, something I need to remember to pick up at the store.
When this happened this morning, I realized that this was my mind multi-tasking. Isn’t that what I demand of it all day? My day job requires me to move from task to task, interruption to interruption, all while moving multiple projects forward. Questions, phone calls, meetings, ideas, problems to solve, challenges to overcome, projects to complete, people to inform or soothe are part of each work day. It isn’t any wonder that my mind during meditation continues this same behavior. It is what I have trained my mind to do.
And this is exactly why I must PRACTICE being present here and now. It is not enough for me to feel present for a moment or two. “Ah, there it is, there is my breath, here are my toes, this is my backside sitting in the chair, see I can do this.” Present – check. Done – now moving on …
If I want to enter Silence, if I want to feel that kind of peace, or if I simply want the health benefits of mindful presence, I have to practice it – here, now, longer and more often. Because my mind will treat presence like one more task it needs to complete and then move on. I will experience Presence for this moment and then be back off again thinking and doing something else, somewhere else. You can’t multitask Presence.
So for the next week, I am going to Practice being Present and see how long I can stay on one task, attempting to retrain my mind: breathing in and out with my whole body, here and now. I encourage you to try it.