A few days ago there was a national holiday, a day off in the middle of the week.
I was passing by Calea Victoriei and it really felt like a holiday. You could see many people enjoying themselves, walking, eating ice cream, drinking. It felt very nice and relaxed. You could feel that everybody’s attention was outside of themselves, in the enjoyment, in the beautiful weather, in the conversations they were having with their friends.
Most of the time, however, we are not so festive; most of the time we are working and very busy; the mind is worried, anxious, lost in problems, commitments, responsibilities. And our attention, of course, is also outside, in the problems, the future, in the tasks at hand.
And so, either when we are busy, or when we are having fun, attention is always out, always in things, situations, people, problems, difficulties, plans etc, etc. Attention is always outside of ourselves.
I could say that the main message I try to bring either with the classes I teach, with these notes I write, or with pretty much everything I do, is the possibility to stop, to turn our attention around and to pay attention inside…
By inside I don’t mean inside the body — to the blood, the organs or the bones. No! By inside I mean to the sense of being; to the sense of being here, of being present, of being alive, of being in the moment… It is not easy to put it into words, but if we can allow these words to penetrate, we can very easily feel that turning the attention inside is like coming home, like returning to ourselves, like coming back to what we really are.
It is of course absolutely necessary to pay attention outside and, in days like a holiday, doing that feels very pleasant and nice.
But still, even if it is necessary and sometimes feels good, we need to remember that turning the attention inside is also something we like, something we enjoy and, even more importantly, something we truly, profoundly and essentially need.
This beingness is something that has to be recognized and valued.
We value many things in our lives. We value relationships, money, possessions, holidays etc, etc. What we need to do is to learn to value presence. First as one of the many things we value but, in time, to realize that as important as everything else is, nothing is as important as presence.
This recognition of the great value of presence is not at all easy to make, but think about it: in our modern societies we have more (more money, more possessions, more information, more of everything!) than anybody ever had in the whole history of human kind. It is said that a middle-class person now has more comfort than a king had in the Middle Ages. And still, with all that we have, with all we possess, how happy are we?
Yes, we certainly have our moments of happiness, but how truly happy, content, at peace are we?
People think that in order to be happier, more content and at peace, what we need is to have a few (or a lot!) more things. And yes, when we get those things, we are happier. But for how long?
As difficult as it is to understand this, we need to realize that it is not more things that we need in order to be happy and at peace – but presence.
And this is truly the aim of the Yoga classes I teach.
We do gym for sure, but the essence of the classes is the connection to the moment; the gym and the movements, as important as they are, are secondary to the connection to presence.
Just for a moment, after you read this paragraph, stop reading, close your eyes and connect to the breathing. Just for a few seconds. You don’t have to change the breath but simply notice that you are breathing.
Watching the breath is like watching rain falling, or a river flowing, or fire burning; watching the breath is like watching nature. And so, for a few moments, notice nature in the form of your breath.
Do it now. Close your eyes, stop even for a few seconds the movements of the mind, and come to the moment through the breath. Just let the air come, let the air go and, as you notice the breath, feel, connect and sense this presence, this beingness; feel this connection to yourself.
Stay there, even for a few seconds…
… return home.