Tag Archives: questions

Practising Presence

I’m over a week into my challenge to be present. I could tell you that I’m completely zen, that I’ve attained enlightenment, and that I’m connected with and full of love for the entire universe. But I won’t do that.

I’ll be honest. I’m not there just yet. I’m definitely not present all the time. I’m probably not even present half the time. However, the knock-on effect from simply setting this challenge is that it’s making me much more aware. And once you’re aware, you begin to wake up.

I’m looking at my thoughts and feelings with interest. Rather than scolding myself for not being perfect, I’m observing my reactions with curiosity and humour. And when I notice my mind fleeing from the present, I’m now able to catch the tail of my projections and coax myself back to centre.

I recognise that I always have a choice as to how I feel in any given moment. I can decide which thoughts to believe. I can question my assumptions. And I can release stagnant patterns so that life flows with ease, joy and abundance.

For most of my life, the extravaganza of my ego hypnotised me. But now that I’m sampling pure pockets of peace, this mindfulness jazz tastes like more.

Today, I sit in the September sun. For fear of doing nothing, I walk outside armed with phone, book, journal and iPod. But I get a sense that I’m doing this out of habit. I ignore the paraphernalia, put my feet up, tilt my face skyward, and appreciate the wine-stained autumn leaves and the heat on my toes. The crumpled clouds remind me of a morning strand, slick from a recent tide.

This evening though, I huff and puff over the stories my mind barrages me with. Again, it dawns on me that I’m doing this out of habit. I take a breath, drop into my core, and let it go.

In bed tonight, my mind visits many foreign and oft-explored destinations. At first, I indulge these memories, fantasies and nightmares. Then, I shift out of the nonsense and into the present. Only in presence do I realise that my body is clenched and I’m not lying in a comfortable position. I give myself permission to relax.

zdravoslovnohranene.com

zdravoslovnohranene.com

If you want to become more present, remember that practice makes “perfect”. It may be helpful to figure out which places and techniques assist you with the process. Being in nature usually grounds me. So does concentrating on my breath.

And yes, it is easier to be present when faced with a special moment or a spectacular view. Being present comes effortlessly when you gaze at the enormous moon in a glittering sky. Or when you watch the holiday sun melt into the horizon. Or when you turn your attention to your other senses – sinking into a yoga pose after a long day; the sensation of a lover’s touch; the strangely comforting sound of the roaring rain and wailing wind at your window.

But what about all the other moments? How can you be present during the difficult, sad and angry episodes? Can you maintain your presence of mind, body and spirit throughout the mundane and the chaotic? When you’re stuck in traffic or shuffling at the back of a massive queue? When you’re exhausted after a trialling time or choked up with dread over an imminent event?

Don’t worry if your desire to be present doesn’t manifest immediately or if it vanishes at the first sign of struggle. Simply be aware of how you are. The key is to treat yourself with compassion. Whenever I have trouble with mindfulness, I  recall a friend’s suggestion:

“You must be gentle with yourself. Each time you attach to thought and abandon the present moment, bring yourself back with the lightest nudge. Like with the soft top of a paintbrush.”

With practice, presence will start to become automatic. Because it’s our natural state. We just got a little lost along the way. We got caught up in the adventure, we drank in too much drama, and our vision grew blurry.

But now that I’m sobering up, I can focus on the path home, and I finally understand that I don’t have to travel very far. I don’t have to go anywhere at all. I just have to be.

Advertisements

Listen

As I climb into bed, various opinions and pieces of advice that people have given me over the years flash into my mind. I recall their musings on my life and on what I should and shouldn’t be doing.

After bulldozing in with their tuppence worth, these supposed do-gooders continued on with their lives without a second thought. Meanwhile, I attached more value to their throwaway comments than to my own lifetime experience of being me.

I’ve spent long enough caring about how others perceive me. I’ve winced at their judgements, flinched at their criticism, basked in their compliments, and hoped for their approval.

Before taking action, I presumed how other people would react. This ineffective technique of mind-reading actually influenced how I was feeling and the choices I made.

Now in my thirty-fifth year on this planet, I’m finally getting sense. I understand that anything anyone says is coming from their perspective. People dish out suggestions that are based on a minuscule snapshot of my life. And even that tiny glimpse is filtered through the lens of their own history and beliefs.

Last night, as I walked alongside my sister, I was tempted to ask for her thoughts on something I’d spoken about earlier. But I realised that I would be doing it out of habit. It didn’t really matter what she thought about this subject. Getting her to advise me would be a waste of her energy because I knew that I would go with my gut anyway. And I mightn’t even want to hear what she had to say.

Not many people enjoy being told what to do. Nobody likes feeling judged either. And how can anyone know with absolute certainty what’s right for another person?  By doling out our opinions and “friendly” advice, we run the risk of blocking the flow of communication.

All we have to do is be there for one another. We don’t have to stress about giving the right guidance. What a relief not to have to be responsible for coming up with the answers or fixing everyone else’s problems.

Instead of handing out answers, start asking questions. This will facilitate lateral thinking, which will enable the other person to open up to previously unexplored options.

Support your friends/family/partners/clients in whatever course of action they decide to take. Listen to them. And more importantly, really hear what they’re expressing.

All we really want is for someone to just be with us and really hear what it is we’re saying. Because when we are heard, we feel understood. And when we feel understood by another human being, that is the beauty of true connection.

quoteswave.com

quoteswave.com

Powerful Questions

My Life Coaching teacher asked one of my classmates the following question:

“If you went to a fortune-teller, what area of your life would you most like to know about? And what would you like the fortune-teller to tell you about it?”

This morning, armed with a cup of tea, pen and paper, I sat down to answer that question for myself. And this is what I wrote:

“I don’t think I’d like to know. There’s something magic and exciting about imagining what wonderful things are going to happen.

“I won’t limit myself. I could be disappointed with what the fortune-teller tells me. Or I could start looking for that one particular thing, thus ruling out other possibilities.

“I’m constantly evolving and raising my vibration so my destiny is rapidly changing. Plus, I have free will.”

Every morning, I ask myself: “I wonder what wonderful things are going to happen today.” I want to remain open to that enthusiasm and opportunity.

There’s something powerful about asking questions that make you think outside the box. It can be really insightful to answer such questions. What would your answer be?

And if, like me, you enjoy lateral thinking, here are some more questions asked by the Life Coaching teacher last weekend:

  • If you could be any age, what age would you be and why?
  • If you were a fictional character, who would you be? Why?
  • If you were immortal for a day, what would you do?
  • If you could change your name, what would you change it to? Why?
  • If you could be any drink, what would you be?
  • How would the person who loves you most describe you?
  • If you could wave a magic wand to give yourself an extra characteristic, what would it be?
  • In five years’ time, what would you like your life to be like?
  • If you knew you couldn’t fail and nobody would judge you, what would you do?
  • What are the three most important things in your life?
pinterest.com

pinterest.com

The Dark Side of the Moon

Today, I had a very interesting conversation about good and evil. One woman stated: “Of course evil exists if good exists. Everything has its polarity.”

I’ve been told before that I only see the good in people and that I need to live in the “real” world. Despite this, I said: “I realise that without darkness, there can be no light. But ultimately, and beyond all that, I feel that love and light prevail. And everything is part of that Divine Oneness.” Somebody else piped up: “Yes, duality only comes into play when the human mind perceives it.”

Deep, I know! I went home in a bit of a daze. I knew I had to sit with this and feel what was right for me. I went to bed with a copy of the Tao Te Ching and randomly opened a page. I was amazed to read the following words:

“Recognise beauty and ugliness is born. Recognise good and evil is born. Is and isn’t produce each other. Hard depends on easy, Long is tested by short, High is determined by low, Sound is harmonised by voice, After is followed by before.”

It is only in defining something that its opposite arises. I felt very tired. I switched off the light, pulled back the curtains and gazed up at the night. “What is the truth,” I asked the crescent-shaped moon. The clouds moved across the sky, part shadow, part light. Suddenly, a large black cloud completely covered the moon. It was as though the darkness had banished the light.

The truth, according to my human eye, was that the shadow had overridden the light. Yet I knew that the moon had not gone anywhere. It still was. I also knew that, although it only appeared to be a sliver of its full self, the moon never actually diminished in size. It was always there in its entirety. And I knew that it was the brightest object in the sky, after the sun, even though its surface was actually very dark, with a similar reflectance to coal.

The dark cloud moved on and the light shone down. The moon said nothing. It simply was. And I no longer needed to be answered.

justhotpics.blogspot.com/2008/12/beautiful-pictures-of-moon