I am a pretty distracted lady. At the moment I am doing my damnest to be a little more present in my life. This is my latest post…
I am waiting for Evie as she plays.
I listen to her in the bedroom chatting with her toys and I watch that neurotic voice in my head that cajoles and bullies: we had a plan! We were going to see the donkeys! What are you doing standing there? We’re wasting time! Lets go!
Because there was a plan.
But then we needed to come for a last minute nappy change just as we were heading out of the door so here we are, upstairs, me waiting to put some clothes on my daughter and Eve immersed in play. And it’s late in the afternoon and there’s not much light left in the day – will we make it outside?
So I ignore the voice and get down on the floor instead; maybe I can do some yoga whilst I wait.
At first my movements are scattered – my intention oscillating between lets do some plank and get all toned and oh fooey, I just want to do some yoga. But slowly, as I start spending more time in each pose, as I start being led more by the enjoyment of what I am doing, rather then the fear of what will happen if I don’t do it, my body relaxes and I feel myself slowing down as I listen to the soundtrack of my daughter immersed in a world meaningful to her as I stretch and move around on the floor, (for illustration, please see otter above) and something in me is reminded of the yoga I used to do and the yoga I do now. I miss those long sessions.
I used to have a morning ritual that started at 5am with an hour long meditation, followed by a trip to the fridge and about 15minutes of lying sprawled on a sofa that carries much meaning for me as it’s a sofa that is so comfortable and warm and inviting and on it whole worlds have happened that makes me want to take that sofa with me wherever I go in the world. So I would lie on this sofa and eat my raw chocolate cake which was so damn good that you could only lie there and enjoy the eating of it and then I would begin a 90mins/2 hour yoga session with music in the background followed by a shower, breakfast and then at my desk for 9am. Fast forward to the present day and my meditation sessions are 20minutes and my yoga sessions consist of 5mins here, 1minute here. And if I do ever have a bit more time, I pretty much use that for savasana. You know the pose? Flat out on my back, eyes closed, a moment when the world goes still.
After a little while Eve comes through to the landing bringing her toys which she places down with Bongo lying beside her. And I watch them, my daughter and dog, as I sit not far away, my legs in a v shape, a mottled memory of a pose I adored when pregnant.
Eve plays, chatting with her toys, as she sits role-playing a scene involving Arial the mermaid and Flounder, who in this case is a plastic black and white dog, instead of a fish as in the film.
I watch my daughter, my heart touched to see her playing so joyfully and animatedly. And in watching I have a moment undistracted, a sweet simple moment of watching and loving and feeling those feelings inside.
When it passes, tears come to my eyes.
Presence: the best present we can give?
I read once that life is a hologram and we are an expression, a part of that. I struggled to get a tangible understanding of this for ages. The problem is my understanding never does, or rather, so rarely comes from being told something, it comes instead from experiencing something. This is how I learn.
And so it was for that moment, watching my daughter and dog, a disappearing happened that was much more expansive then the state I normally entertain.
Now that I am a parent I can experience directly what my lack of presence in my life means for those dear to me: it means I’m really not there. For though I may be in the room with people physically, mentally I can be quite far away.
To be really, truly in a moment is incredibly hard for me because most of the time my experience of myself is not of a thumping heart with limbs and muscle and hair and blood and skin and cells and bones, but of an endless cacophony of thoughts and energy and buzz quite disassociated to something more akin to the bodies and people that we are.
So I’m doing my damnest, to #throwthenetopen and be present. Really damn trying. Heck I know I’ve written about trying to not try, but sometimes, well sometimes I need to try. I gotta…
To try, to not try by and by, because I don’t want to almost die and look back and say oh why didn’t I try a little harder? Because there’s an endless stream of thoughts ready to carry me like a piece of driftwood down a current it can be hard to avoid when I’m in it.
And it may sound morbid, death an’all, but it’s gonna happen, of that I can be sure and the Dalai Lama says our greatest tragedy is not that we die, but that we do not live whilst we have the chance.
So here I am, like a drunk who wants to get sober, this non present person who really wants to get present and these are some of the things that help…
I visualize these tendrils, these strands, these roots from my feet as delicate as ones you’ll see from a plant but so visceral and real and strong going straight into the earth as I walk over it: this grounds me. I bring my attention to my breath whenever I can – in conversation with others, when I am alone, when I am with Eve: this brings me to what is happening right now. I broaden and lengthen my feet & my toes and my palms & my fingers at night when I struggle to fall asleep because I am too disconnected, too in my thoughts and this brings me back into my body. I bring my attention to my 3 centres: head, heart and belly. And if I can’t feel them, then I just see them there, knowing that though I may be disconnected, that which I cannot feel is still there. And sometimes I resource*: I imagine a team of 4 or 5 who I feel safe with, people close to my heart and I see them in the room with me and it helps, it calms the nervous system, it brings me back to the moment.
So yes it’s a bulge of a paragraph, but the experience of applying these things happens quite quickly. It doesn’t take much time or thought to broaden your palm and lengthen your fingers, which though it’s a method we use in the yoga I practice, as taught by my yoga teacher Godfrey Devereux I’ve found this simple technique helps connect me to my body at night and though the actions are small, the impacts are immediate and real.
So I sit here on the floor watching my daughter and dog. And I see Bongo so happy to have us here. And I get for the first time that he loves the country; it’s his home, but what he adores is us being there with him.
Me too Bong, me too…
Have a beautiful weekend everyone,