Looks can be deceiving. Today, while it appeared that I was simply walking to my afternoon yoga class along Amsterdam avenue, I was in fact in arround twelve different venues far away from my earthly body. I was in Sedona, Arizona with my boyfriend, trying to figure out flight schedules, while I was at my computer dealing with bills, while I was back at work dealing with a student's knee replacement and how to accommodate her, while I was in Costa Rica...just because. So, vrittis (fluctuations of the mind, also known as, thoughts!) flying, I was stopped short by this window display at Banana Republic, and just cracked up.
Love the Present. I do find it slightly ironic to have a sign that says "Love the Present" with mannequins holding gift-wrapped boxes advertising Christmas a week before Thanksgiving even happens, but I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless. Sometimes, it feels like the universe just sends messages when you least expect and most need them.
And this is why we do yoga. Sutra 1.2 - 3 says, "we do yoga to calm the mind down so we can get to know our true selves." While people come into yoga for a multitude of reasons (to get in shape, get flexible, because their girlfriends do it, etc.) if you stick around long enough, chances are you will find the amazing side effect that is the original intent: the ability to be exactly where your feet are, for however long you can be. For me, this used to be for just a moment at a time, even during class. These days, most of my class time is spent exactly where I am, working to find the most elegant alignment in my body. (Of course, I slip out of it, and will occasionally have a teacher chortle, "Kat! Your feet are doing ballet while your arms are doing yoga!" or the like) And even more often, I am becoming aware of when my mind does slip away, and I am starting to be able to bring myself back to where I am.
In reality, the present moment is all we have (as we know.) The past is gone and the future doesn't exist. The most important moment in the universe is this moment. And this moment. And this moment.
What actions can we do today to help ourselves stay in the present? There are so many tools, and yoga isn't the only one by a long shot. For some people, it's running, knitting, or dancing. For some people, it's just finding a quiet corner to sit and breathe. Today, for me, it's taking a moment to be grateful for exactly where I am and what I have at that moment. Right now, at this instant, I am sitting on a warm bed in a lovely room with everything I need and most of what I want. I have quiet, and peace, and love. What else could I ask for?
A few tools to ground yourself in the present:
1) Stand in tadasana (mountain pose.) Standing with your feet together or slightly apart, lift your toes up to ground your feet down. Press back through the thighs while you rotate your buttocks towards your heels. Feel the energy from the earth coming up through your legs and spreading through your body. Spread your palms on your thighs. Breathe.
2) Scrape a stainless steel spoon on the bottom of your feet. Sounds weird, but it works.
3) Touch something natural and connected to the earth, such as a tree trunk. Place both hands on it and connect to that energy.
4) Make a list of ten things you are grateful for in that moment.
5) Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
What do you do to bring yourself back to the present? Feel free to comment below.