Raise your hand if you have a hard time focusing on what is actually going on at the present moment? I'm not talking about how the current situation makes you feel, or how it could make you feel better, or even how it could be worse. I'm refering to what it is, right now. In its most basic definition.
Example: Let's say it's time for you to go somewhere. Let's also pretend you have a car (you can apply this to any other method of transportation, if you'd like). You get in your car, hopefully you fasten your seatbelt, and you start your car. You put it into gear and you drive. You might turn a few times, stop a few times, change lanes, and the like, but all you're actually doing while you're in your car is driving it. That's all.
Now, who talks to themselves in the car? Who sings along to the radio? Who makes phone calls or sends text messages or updates their Facebook? Safety issues aside, most of us, at least when we're alone in the car (or anywhere), we think. We think about stuff that isn't happening at the present moment. We think about the traffic and how it's good or it's bad and how that makes us feel. We think about where we're going and if we're excited to be there or not. We think about what we were doing before we left wherever we were before we got into the car. We think about tomorrow, yesterday, last year, six months from now. We play out conversations we've had with people, or that we'd love to have with people. We fantasize. We grieve.
Aren't we amazing beings? Our only real task at hand, while in the car, is to drive. To be a driver. Not to feel one way or another about it, but just to do it. Look at all the other things we manage to pack into that task? The rest of the stuff you have going on may seem productive because it a) helps you get things done you otherwise wouldn't have time for, b) it's a time to clear your head (more thoughts on the irony of this in a moment) and c) it -- this one is my favorite -- passes the time.
Why do we always look for something to do to pass the time? To clear our heads? We always have to be doing things, it seems. When is the last time you sat down, closed your eyes and -- stop -- that's it. Just did that? Didn't think or worry or plan or reminisce?
I am a thinker. I dig into life and I pick it apart. I try to think of every possible scenario. I want to know what it all means. For many of my friends, this a big reason they call and ask me for advice -- because there's a good chance I've over-considered whatever they're about to ask me. For many others, it's what makes me seem a little bonkers. Just a little.
Since I've started all this yoga stuff, I've started working on clearing my mind. Just for a few moments every so often throughout each day. I stop what I'm doing, I close my eyes and, to whatever is buzzing around in my curly-haired head, I say, "I am not that." And then I ask myself what I am actually doing. Right then. Right there.
I am driving to work. I am waiting for class to start. I am watering my plants. I am laying in my bed. I am reading a manuscript. I am making a sandwich.
And then I give every fiber of who I am, in that moment, to enjoy whatever that is.
Suddenly, what I'm doing becomes amazing. Holy crap. I'm driving a car. Something that was actually, as far as the span of time is considered, invented pretty recently. How lucky I am to be able to do this. I mean, I own a car. That's a luxury. Think of all the people who were a part of creating this one car. I may never meet them, but we're connected through this 1996 Mazda Protege. Look at all of these other people on the road. I might know some of them, I might meet some of them. We're all packed in like sardines trying to get somewhere and we're all acting like we're worlds apart. Think of the road. How many people made this possible? I'm connected to them too, simply because I'm using it. And so on...
Then, suddenly, you're at your destination. And instead of spending that whole drive thinking about or doing things that, well -- let's be honest -- don't really matter in the long run, you just said a little thank you to all the people who made it possible to do that little thing you do every day, and probably take for granted.
Try it some time. I am not that.