I am sitting in a small fishing boat just off the rugged coastline of British Columbia. I am watching a humpback whale happily feeding in the shallows between me and the shore. Eagles are flying overhead. The only sounds I hear are the wind and the waves and the calling of birds, the spout of a whale. Here, in this wilderness, it is easy to practice presence. But what about when we are right smack dab in the middle of LIFE?! With its ups and downs, its curveballs and reversals? What then? How do we practice presence in those no- so-idyllic moments?
We do our best. We begin to follow simple practices like mindfulness to calm us and connect us. Mindfulness is simply noticing our thoughts and what is going on around us, noticing how our body feels in response to that stimuli. If we can be aware enough to just stop, take a deep breath, observe how our body feels THEN proceed, we can avoid a lot of suffering.
Here are some steps we can take to allow more presence into our busy lives:
- Experience nature. Go to the beach or the park or the mountaintop! Experience a sunset. Get outdoors, breathe fresh air and surrender to the gratitude that fills us when we are in a forest or looking up at the stars.
- Meditate daily. Going inside calms the nervous system and we find ourselves responding to situations instead of reacting to them. We are less likely to create MORE chaos.
- Practice yoga. A regular practice enlivens our energies, strengthens our bodies, contributes to our overall wellbeing and tightens the loose screws in our head.
- Get a dog. Nothing beats the unconditional love and joy we get from our pets. Eckhart Tolle says our pets are here to keep us in the present moment. Can we be thinking of anything else while looking into the welcoming, loving eyes of our pets?
- Take a practicing presence walk in nature. Instead of sauntering along thinking thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow, slow down, connect with the breath. Go at a snail’s pace and notice every blade of grass. Notice the bark on the tree and the little moss growing on the bark and the tiny bug walking through the moss. Don’t label them tree, moss, bug … see if you can feel the energy of them, be with them. Moving slowly on, notice the clouds without labeling them. Feel the air on your skin.
- One of the easiest ways to come into the present moment is to listen intently for the sounds of nature.
I am at a dining table in the fishing lodge. There are two eagles perched on a limb outside the window. I am fascinated by them, these Pittas of the bird kingdom. So beautiful and majestic. The most beautiful thing of all is knowing that by taking time in nature I can take the peace and presence of this place back with me into the bustling airport and beyond.