Today I had the joy of an extended period of being present, lasting about 30 minutes. It was while swimming, so it was relatively easy as there were few distractions and plenty of sensory experiences to focus on.
The thoughts came into my mind with their stories, their interpretations, judgements and reflections with the various feeling responses. So I kept taking myself gently back to the present over and over. I did this by focusing on my physical senses, breathing consciously, focusing on the patterns of the light on the water, the physical feeling on my skin of the temperature and the sensations of the water.
The effect of breaking the normal heady trance on my energy level is noticeable. When I am fully present and not lost in thought, I can swim for a long long time without getting tired, and there is a sense of timelessness. I forget about myself for a while and I forget about everything except what I am doing, life just flows along taking me with it.
I do this throughout the day while I am driving, or walking in the park, or having a pee, or shopping, washing dishes, hoovering. Back to my breath and noticing what I can see and feel physically, I get out of my mind and into the present over and over all day long. There is a part of us that is always relaxed no matter whether we acknowledge it or not, it is always there waiting for us. I no longer get annoyed when I get lost in thought, as I have learned that self chastisement is painful and unhelpful. I keep an attitude of light curiosity, and even amusement at times at the completely random nature of the thoughts that come into my head.
A tremendous freedom comes with tuning into the always present awareness, and I notice that what comes out my mouth at these times is appropriate, unexpected and spontaneous. I also notice the quality of my speech differs when I am not present fully. It is more contrived, manipulative, wanting of a result…I am often trying to sounds like a clever somebody, or maybe deep and sensitive, caring or interesting. And the speech loses its unexpectedness and spontaneity. I am spending more and more time resting deeply into the present, so I am noticing with more clarity what it is like when I leave that presence.
When my brother was here the other night I got excited again, as I did with my friend the other day at dinner. We were talking intimately and deeply about self compassion and suchlike, and my speech at first came out in an unexpected spontaneous flow. This excited me, and I then started interrupting a lot and was thinking about what I was going to tell him next while he was talking instead of listening. Trying to impress. The excitement got hold of me and I then found myself saying things I didn’t really need to, details about my life, likes and dislikes that weren’t even that interesting or relevant, just liked the sound of my own voice, the excitement had ‘taken’ me and off I went, off centre and no longer present. I made another note to self that I will be extra vigilant when in company, to be deeply present and quiet.
I am aware of how valuable and vital this period of solitude is. It is allowing me to see what is going on almost like I have a magnifying glass. With few social encounters, I am not overwhelmed with data to examine. I can see exactly what I am doing, and importantly can FEEL what I am doing.