Do you ever get so busy with work, the family, hobbies, or in your own head that you fail to connect with those around you and your surroundings too? Sometimes I can get so caught up in my own head that I am completely disconnected from where I am and who I am with. And I can do that with activities too, including being on my phone.
Although it is good to be mindfully engaged with whatever we are doing, it is important to balance this with being areful not to lose connection with others. I am writing this to remind myself to take time to connect, in the words of Jim Elliot: "Wherever you are- be all there." And Johnny Cash: "too heavenly minded, no earthly good".
Eckhart Tolle reminds us the present moment is all we really have. He encourages us to "Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have". But how do we do that? I am not sure about you but my mind is constantly dwelling in the past or the future, usually with worry about what has happened or may or may not happen. Both the past and the future only exist in the present mind. The past has already been and the future has not yet come, we bring them into the present mind, usually with worry. There is never any use worrying about what has already been and what may or may not happen in the future, but how do we stop ruining our present with such worry?
Fortunately there are some ways to train our mind to be more in the present and less caught up with worry about the past and future. One of my sons is off overseas tomorrow and I have been going to that spot of worry about various possible future scenarios - I have been trying to remember to put helpful practices like these into practice!!!
I am grateful to many teachers for introducing me to practices that remind me to connect wirh where I am and the changing present moment, instead of worrying. I plan to share these over the next few blog posts. Here are two practices, from Lama Marut and Cindy Lee, that I have found very helpful. You might want to give them go.
1. Be Here Now
This is a useful warm-up practice before meditation or any time really. I use it as part of guided meditation in yoga classes. It involves simply getting in touch with 'where you are' and 'when you are'.
Where you are?
Simply ask - where am I? I can be so caught up with where I was previously or where I am off to next, that I can fail to notice where I am! Ever had the experience of driving somewhere on automatic - thinking about who knows what - arriving there and being surprised at how you got there?
Taking the time to ask yourself this simple question and notice where you are and your surroundings, is very helpful for bringing your mind into the present. What a relief! Unless we are in the middle of a disaster, there is no fear or worry in the present.
When you are?
The 'when you are' bit is about tuning in to the changing present by noticing the changing...
I find this a very useful exercise to bring my mind back to where and when I am - connecting with the present, the ever changing present moment. It helps to prevent me from being caught up (usually worrying) in those times that do not exist - the past that has already been, and the future that is yet to come. Instead I can bring myself back into the present and realise there is no fear or worry there.
2. Is this memory useful for me now?
I find this a really helpful question to ask myself when I worry. When my mind goes to the past to dig up an unhelpful memory that will disturb my present state of mind and create future worry as well, I try to remember to ask myself this question. Is this memory useful for me now?
I noticed my mind do this last night when I started to remember and worry about a previous trip my son had overseas. Is this memory useful for me now? NO. So, how can I rewrite it into a more helpful one. Here is my attempt, and what I said to myself last night - 'he is older and wiser now, I will re-share some things he might find helpful and then let go and allow him to learn the lessons he needs to learn'. And instead of tossing and turning I went back off to sleep.
So this morning I sat down to write a letter that ended up a little more like a short story, which I am grateful to say he received graciously. I have truly let the worry go now and am able to send him off on his adventure with optimism and joy.
I am so thankful for all the wonderful wise advice I have received over the years and am also thankful to you all for kindly allowing me to share it with you. Sharing really helps me to remember and be accountable to do my best to practice what I have been so fortunate to have received. I hope you find something of use to you.
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Have a great week.
Thank you all once again for your continued support, friendship and generosity.
Kind Regards and Best Wishes
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