November is here! The cold weather is settling in, the winter holiday season is just around the corner and the new year--better yet, the new DECADE--is quickly approaching. With so much coming up, and the pressure make the end of this year #Epic, it's easy to get swept up into future wants, fantasies & desires yet loose track of what's happening right here, right now.
The present moment is easily taken for granted, yet it's one of the most amazing gifts we are given each and every day. Right here, right now, is everything we need, but the desire for more and "better" can leave us feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied or unhappy. However, there's nothing wrong with desire when it's rooted in awareness and presence. According to yogi mystic Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of the Isha Institute, the essential energy that's known as "desire" is not any different from the essential energy known as "life."
"If desire is a conscious process, there is no problem," says Sadhguru. "But now that you have lost your awareness and it has become a compulsion, you are a slave to your desire."
When we are aware of our desires, we can empower ourselves with the ability to respond in our lives instead of blindly following compulsions. When we have the ability to respond, we can make conscious choices to intentionally manifest our life desires in every moment. When we are consciously manifesting life desires with intention, we can discern what is lasting from fleeting; what is real from unreal; what we need to do to show up for our lives right here and now in order to grow these intentional life desires.
"When we are present and show up mindfully to the task or experience at hand, we stop the train of thoughts and stories we constantly tell ourselves," says Sadhguru. "We live what is right in front of us and are no longer distracted by fear or other scenarios our mind has the power to make up."
Ready to start showing up for yourself right here, right now? Here are six easy tools you can start using today to cultivate your ability to live with a sense presence:
1. Connect to your physical senses: Notice what sensations your experiencing from the world around you. For at least 15 minutes every day take time to check it with your physical senses in the moment--taste, touch, sight, smell & sound. Enjoy laying in bed for a little bit when you wake up in the morning? This a great opportunity to observe your senses! These 5 senses are connected to the 5 elements: earth is connected to smell and the nose, water is connected to taste and the tongue, fire is connected to vision and the eyes, air is connected to touch and the skin (hands in particular), ether is connected to hearing and the ears.
2. Practice daily journaling: This doesn't have to be a "dear diary" session. This doesn't have to follow any formal writing rules. If your not familiar with journal writing, stream-of-conscious is a great way to ease your thoughts onto paper. Other great writing exercises are word mapping your thoughts or bullet journaling. When you become accustom to journaling, start writing about your intentions, identifying desires and discovering any common themes in what you.
3. Establish a "no-screen time" buffer: Disconnect from tablets, phones and computers before bedtime and/or after awaking for at least 30 minutes. Let this time be for you to be present with yourself, your family, your pets--you get the point. An increasing body of research is showing the importance of managing the amount of time you spend scrolling and being in front of a screen--this is especially important for early childhood development. This no-screen time buffer is a great opportunity to practice yoga, do breathwork, meditate or journal your intentions.
4. Create a self-care ritual to start your day and/or end your evening: Make time for daily personal health, hygiene and well-being. This isn't "girl go get yourself a manicure & drink mimosas" sort of self-care. This is something you do every day to check in & check up on your physical body. For me, I start my morning tongue scraping, brushing my teeth, oil-pulling, using my netipot, taking a shower & massaging a little invigorating kapha balancing oil into my skin. I finish it up with a cup of tea and morning sadhana or a morning walk. This takes me 1-2 hours depending on how much time I have in the morning (I wake up between 6-6:30am). By then I'm ready for breakfast and then work.
5. Keep screens away from the dining table: Going out for dinner with your friends and loved ones? Leave your phone in your purse or pocket. Having a meal at home? Eat your meal at your dining table and put your phone in your bedroom. Bonus points to put your phone on airplane mode when it's mealtime to avoid any distractions and encourage your mealtime partners to do the same. Take this time to connect with your senses and be present for the delicious and nourishing meal on your plate. To expand on this idea, when you're using the toilet, leave you phone aside and be present for the task at hand.
6. Check in with your breath: One of the most powerful tools for re-connecting to the present moment is re-connecting with your breath. Whenever you notice any swells of anxiety, anger, fear, judgement, regret or any other intense emotions or thoughts that can distract or delude, turn your awareness to your breath for even just 5 minutes. Notice how the space in front of you turns into your inhale, and how your exhale turns into the space in front of you. Notice the subtle sound of your breath. Notice the gentle warming & cooling sensations of your breath, and where & when you experience this sensation as you breathe. Notice how you are breathing--the length of your inhales & exhales, and if the inhale is longer or if the exhale is longer. Notice the space at the top of your inhale before it turns into the exhale, and at the bottom of the exhale before in turns to the inhale--observe if there's a small pause between your breaths or if it's a continuous flow of breath. Notice the way your breath moves your body. Notice any other particular qualities of your breath.
As You incorporate these six tools for presence into your life, start with the one(s) that resonates with you the most--it's okay to go for the "low hanging fruit" when making radical changes in your life as those are the new habits that you'll be able to integrate effortlessly. As this new habit feel more natural, start to integrate another tool for presence into your everyday life. Pay close attention to how you feel as you start to practice these tools, and, of course, journal about your journey into presence.
If you fall off the wagon, it's okay! It's never to late to start your practice. Learning to be here now is a journey into awareness, so give yourself space for self-inquiry, self-discovery and self-compassion.
Yesterday is already gone. Tomorrow is not yet here. Today is the only day available to us; it is the most important day of our lives.
~Tich Nhat Hanh