Swimming along this morning, I had done about 15 lengths before I realised that I was not actually fully in this experience of swimming along. I was in my thoughts, thinking about my lodger, my sister, the lady in the jacuzzi, my walk last night, my day ahead. I was only peripherally aware of the experience I was actually in.
Of course I was aware that I was swimming along, and could feel and hear the water, feel the temperature and see other people there. I was not fully there though, most of my attention was on what I was thinking about.
When I realised this I brought my attention to the present experience of the activity. I had to almost force myself to though, it was not as ‘comfortable’ as giving my attention to the stories running though my mind. I registered resistance to coming into the present, like almost wrenching myself away from my inner dialogue.
So I do what I often do when I want to become present again, I take my attention to my senses. In this situation of swimming, I go to what I hear, see, touch, and smell. I felt the touch and warmth of the water on my skin, I paid attention to the swirling patterns in the water and how the water distorted the tiles at the base of the pool making ever changing shapes, I smelled the bleach, I heard the ripplings as I swam along. I felt better as I relaxed into what I was doing, I felt more complete.
For me, learning to be present is practised while I am alone at the moment as I get used to it. I use nature as the route to being present often. This morning in the park I paused and watched as the wind whipped up the fallen leaves. I breathed right into this experience, and felt no separation from it. With nature I feel relatively safe to do this. These are precious short moments of being fully here, all of me. Not just physically here but attention in my mind’s wanderings. I take many of these short moments throughout the day. I am fortunate to have a beautiful view of trees from my large windows and often pause and breathe into what I see and enter the space of no thought. A part of me resists this experience of unity with everything, it is afraid it means annihilation. It is a kind of death, a death of the part that has tried to be separate.