What does it mean to be present in our lives? To understand what presence is, let’s first understand what being un-present means. We are often not in the present moment because we are driven by our fears and stay in our minds. Because our thoughts are not here and now, but somewhere in the future or in the past, we are missing incredible opportunities.
For instance, I am walking through a beautiful landscape but I am unable to see its beauty because I am having a conflict with my partner and I am arguing on how things should have been or should be etc. What a paradox! I am in a wonderful place but I am not in a wonderful place simultaneously. The view is breath-taking, and I am thinking, reviewing what I will say when I will be back from my walk and I have missed the whole opportunity of an amazing communion with nature. All this because I am unable to let go! Unable to be there! My mind, my fears are driving me away from the present moment. I am visiting a new city but I am not able to enjoy it because I am looking at how the rickshaw driver is driving; because I am really scared. Is that justified to be scared? My mind will find all sort of narration to justify my fears: “yes, it is normal to be scared, he is driving so fast etc”. In constantly doing so, I end up not knowing what it means to be there, in complete honouring of this moment. Even if it is not a fabulous view or an exciting place to visit, learn how to HONOUR THE PRESENT MOMENT, whatever it is, it does not matter how banal it is.
What matters is what is happening now. People are struggling to be in the present moment: Something very vital is happening, I need to attend to it, and I think that by being all in my mind, I am attending to it. But who is attending to it? A confused person. The person who has multiple desires that are conflicting with each other. Is that person really attending to the situation? And we go on like this. Attending, sort to say, to things which are “important” and the day is gone. And the next day again, we attend to other “important things”. Alternatively, I divert myself and I resort to amusement in which I am taking my mind away from the situation, from this present moment. I am taking myself purposely away. I am not saying it is bad. I listen to music, I go drumming etc. We all have our things and we never deal with the situation by learning how to be with the situation as it is, especially if it is not very pleasant. We try to avoid it, to put it aside. But is that the way? Is diversion ok? It is ok to relax yourself a little bit? You can convince yourself that it is ok and your situation will remain the same: days in and days out, your situation does not change and you carry on struggling with your life
If you want to start enjoying life, you need to bring order into your life and learn how to honour each moment. How do we do that? There are different techniques that can be used for that like: yoga, meditation etc. How do we honour the present moment when meditating? By watching the phenomena of the breath, the breath coming in and out. I am there in that phenomenon; that is boring you may think; but I am learning to be in this moment. That is the exercise which is called meditation; learning regardless of what is happening around me. I need to learn how to be present and observe myself with equanimity. This means watching the phenomena happening within me and noticing how they are pulling me. Watch your fears, your desires, all those emotions conflicting within yourself and notice how they stop you from being in the present moment. Learning equanimity is learning how not to react to the phenomena happening within myself. Being equanimous is not obvious. We have to practice it! Those practices, when done on a regular daily basis, keep us in tune. Then I understand the phenomena that happen within myself and I see these phenomena happening in others. From that moment, I become forgiving towards myself and others. In being present and seeing what is happening within, I become forgiving to other people and something beautiful arises in my life: true love, true compassion. Then life is a joy. If we continue to be puppets of our own system, it is a disaster. We have to wake up!
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Yoga Master Teacher Sharat Arora