The ‘Practice’ of Presence

There is often so much to do in our everyday life, and so many possibilities, activities, happenings, events in front of ourselves, that most of the time life, our life, seems to be about what is going to come, about the next moment.
But this is a mistaken impression and not really true. It is like seeing the blue in the sky. It seems that it is blue, but it is not. It is an illusion, a very persistent one; even if we know it is not blue, we still see it that way.
And in a very similar way, even if we somehow understand, even if we have heard before the idea of being in the moment and connecting to the moment, we keep losing it, we keep looking ahead, looking in front, looking away to the next thing, and this moment, the truth of our existence, the reality of our lives, keeps eluding us.
And so, it is very important to keep returning to the understanding we may have about presence, the understanding that we have from reading some books, from coming to the yoga classes, or even from our own experience of the shortness of life… the understanding that life is not about what is going to come, is not about tomorrow or the next meeting or activity, is not about the next moment. Of course the next moment may be very important and necessary; we need to plan, arrange and prepare for what is going to come but, as important and necessary as it may be, what needs to be realized is that life, my life, is truly about the experience of this moment now…, this now…, the experience of any now appearing always as now.

We need to keep returning to the moment, especially in simpler moments of our day.
When we are not particularly in a hurry, like when we are walking in a park, washing the dishes or brushing our teeth. All these and many others are moments that are not especially difficult, and we can ‘practice’ this presence, this possibility to return to the moment.

And then, when more difficult moments come our way, especially when we feel overwhelmed and things are more busy and complex, we need to try to come back to the moment even for five seconds. When things are difficult, we should not worry about larger chunks of time, like trying to be present for the whole day, but just return to the moment even for a few seconds. Those few seconds count, enormously!
Einstein said that time is a persistent illusion, which means that time is really not what we think it is. Don’t worry about how much conventional time you spend coming into presence: when you are overwhelmed, if you come into the moment, even for a few seconds, those seconds count as an eternity.
I remember a teacher of mine saying that one second of presence counts as a whole year of being lost in the mind!*

Of course, when we are overwhelmed, to be able to come into presence even for that one second, we need to have a strong understanding of the importance of the present moment and to ‘practice’ that presence in simpler moments of our life.
And so, read about presence, surround yourself with people that appreciate presence, think about the necessity for presence and, in those simpler moments of your everyday life, aim to be present, to step back from the movements and noise of the mind and into the clarity and space of the present moment.

Keep bringing the mind back to now.
Come back to the moment and look, see, hear.
This is the ‘practice’.

And this ‘practice’ is really the main thing we do in our yoga classes.
As we do the gym, as we move, as we breathe, we learn to return to presence.

* Presence is not in time. This is why I write throughout the note the word practice in quotation marks. It seems to be a practice, I even call it ‘the practice of presence’, and by calling it a practice we make it appear as something that exists within time, but in reality it is not.
In time, we can discover that what I refer to as presence is actually the one ‘thing’ which is out of time.

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