I am doing something different today, I’m shelving my book reviews for a day, I’ve stopped reading for a few hours and I’m trying not to think of Colin Firth’s immense twelve-foot statue, white shirt and all, being unveiled on a lake at Hyde Park – slightly creepy if you ask me, I adore the man, the statue however is er, slightly strange, not to mention all the pigeons flitting about, sitting on his head- how rude and er, dropping stuff all over him ( a post calls out to me, with a photo of a wet shirt * dragging myself away from photo*, this is more important) instead, I’ve decided to go back to my roots as Meditating Mummy.
It is three years since I began blogging – I received a little celebratory cup or was it a goblet – it looked sparkly. I may have to have some chocolate, um, I’m feeling very clever using chocolate to celebrate.
So, here’s the thing, I’ve been focused on my thoughts these last few weeks. That’s a lot of thinking. Erm, yes it is.
I need to nibble on more chocolate… mmm!
When my mind travels this way, I have to reign it in. So I decided to write about something that matters to me. I try it every day, I fail miserably and yet, I persist. When it works, It keeps me sane. When life becomes too hectic, too sad, too mean and so encompassing, I lose a little of my equilibrium.
Wait! I just used the word equilibrium – I’m having a moment, it is exactly what I wanted to say about being off-balance. Do you feel like it sometimes? slightly off kilter, a little shift in energy perhaps. That’s how it is for me.
This post is about being present and how it can help with those shifts in balance. It begins with the mind. I have long believed in the power of the human mind. I think the mind is a brilliant artist. It paints so many pictures, it is utterly convincing and we tend to believe. Everything. Firstly being positive, every single day, or even latching on to a tiny speck of something positive, can greatly influence the mind, its travels and the way the body functions. Negativity can shift the balance. Not always easy to be positive when life happens. The mind is typically an escape artist. Sort of like a monkey. It steals away, jumping from one thing to another, an endless list of to-dos, worries and anxieties. It is sometimes impossible to keep the mind still. To be present for one minute. Energy is constantly shifting and the mind can go from positive to negative in an instant. For me, there are days when being present is completely elusive. I go from A to B, I get everything done, I’ve been busy and efficient, clearly, but have I been in the moment every single time? no probably not. Just for an instant, perhaps.
When I work at being present, here’s how it goes for me. I try to practice it in all aspects of life. When I’m happy – yes! dark and slightly bitter chocolate, happy. Dancing to music with my children and blowing bubbles outdoors happy, or listening to Verdi’s La Traviata, imagining I am in Italy, cooking, happy – well, um, that’s not being present, although you could count it as being in a moment. Oooh clever mind, making it into a moment. Reading a book that has made me so excited, happy. I’m present, but then, I can hardly sleep at night for I might forget the characters who have made me feel creative all of a sudden, particularly at midnight. It feels like I could finally write that book I’ve been planning to, for years – clearly my mind is traveling. I am not present with sleep, so I focus on the creativity, think about characters and a title, that helps, then I fall asleep.When a movie has made me cry, then laugh – happy, and I fast- forward certain bits to re-live the most heart stirring of scenes.
Or, and it is a big “or”… when I am sad, sad for parents, family and dear friends dealing with pain, fear, insurmountable grief, the unknown. When I’m anxious. Particularly when I’m anxious…Well, er, I said I fail miserably at trying to be present, but I don’t find it a waste of time. I try everyday, it works. How does it help though? it helps me focus on one thing at a time. It is a reminder to stop, breathe, listen. I pull back from my thoughts… sometimes It is about what to make for dinner and where I need to be and um, why my sweet bell pepper plants are slowly chewed up by a nightly visitor I cannot name at this point, and which activity should come first after the break and those darned school supply lists… yes! I’m already working on it. We go back to school in two weeks. I pull back … one at a time, herding all those chaotic thoughts out. I take items off my mental ‘to-do list and replace it with focus. Focus on what I am doing right at that moment. Only that. If I am chopping, I note that I am chopping and stay with it. If I am interrupted, I go with it, only that. I don’t change, I don’t escape, I just stay. It gets easier and then it disappears, so you bring the mind back to a point of focus. You drop the past, you don’t think of what will be, i.e. the future, you just stay. You lose the worry, you focus on what is happening in the moment. If you are anxious or in pain or feel sad, you stay with it. Sometimes when we have doctor visits i.e. allergy testing ( this last week), I talk my daughter into staying with it, not watching the scraping of the skin per se, just staying with the process. When hives appear and the skin becomes really itchy, she wants to claw at it. I asked her if she could watch how the skin reacted instead. We’ve been doing testing for years, being present works sometimes, and other times, it doesn’t. She is older, so it was a better experience this time.
My journey is such that, when I am present, I try not to go anywhere( not literally, just mentally) I don’t dwell on the past, I don’t know the future, I try to accept what is, now. I’ve discovered that is the key to reducing my stress, my anxieties, my fears. It is always a work in progress because I’m constantly pulled towards what I did yesterday and what I need to do tomorrow, but not what I need to do right now. I am holding on to being present, as I write, for being present a few minutes everyday can help with energy, balance and strength.
So tell me, how does being present help you? if not, what holds your balance, your center?