I was talking with an old friend yesterday who expressed concern about how many of us have lost sight of ourselves due to being stressed and externally focused. In essence we have lost the art of present moment awareness.
When we're too concerned about the world outside of us we become out of touch with our inner guidance, we don't hear our body's intelligence tell us to slow down, drink some water, take a break etc. If this becomes our way of life we become imbalanced and at some point our health begins to suffer.
It's a bit like standing in a room in your house looking through a window to the world outside. You stand for days noticing and worrying about everything going on out there while the dust and cobwebs in your room build up around you. The air becomes stale, the house gets cluttered and still you watch and worry about the world outside never seeing what is happening inside.
My friend also commented on how she's noticed that dogs are always in the now. They don't drag their history with them into the present moment and they don't project their worries into the future. They're just here. Take them for a walk and they're happy doing what dogs do, sniffing, being with you, getting some exercise, tail wagging and never missing the chance to sniff and explore.
There's a lot we can learn from this. If we are not present moment by moment in our lives then we are not actually living our lives, we are merely drifting on autopilot and we are missing everything. We miss the chance to connect deeply with those around us, and the vital opportunity to develop the unique potential that comes with a human birth - to explore and grow our spiritual self.
The only thing we have that we can use to shape our future is this moment now, but if we are spending it worrying over something that may never happen, or arguing with someone in our head who served us an injustice five years ago the moment is lost.
The only thing we have that we can use to shape our future is this moment now, but if we are spending it worrying over something that may never happen, or arguing with someone in our head who served us an injustice five years ago the moment is lost. We are having to learn in a distraction filled world to be present in the moment. To make time to smell the roses instead of walking right past them worrying about our tax returns. We need to rediscover how to slow down, how to sit and breathe and watch the clouds, the birds, the stars.
While a bias towards external focus brings self neglect, a bias towards internal focus can bring selfishness and a blindness to the bigger picture of life and the experiences of others. Neither are healthy and neither help us grow ourselves; to be healthy human beings who can make good choices and honour our potential for growth we have to find balance. Balance of external and internal and balance of mind and body.
Fortunately for us we have been given tools to do this perfectly. Perhaps the easiest and most effective is meditation. It doesn't have to take hours or require a steep learning curve, just the promise to yourself to check in with the bridge between your inner and outer worlds for a few minutes a day.
You can do it by setting a timer for ten minutes and simply sitting and watching your breath, or you can get some help by using a guided meditation that helps you calm your mind and talks you through an exercise in the art of restful awareness.
Either way, a few minutes a day is enough for you to start restoring balance. By putting some quiet time high on your list of priorities you can tap into your own healing potential and begin to enjoy present moment awareness with all its many rewards.
It's important to know that it isn't the amount of time that you spend in meditation that matters so much as the development of your understanding during that time. Even two minutes spent sitting still and breathing slowly can help you develop that understanding. You are developing self awareness, a reconnection with your body's intelligence and that voice inside you that always seeks to help you make good choices but so often gets shouted down by stress. Balance means making little spots of time throughout your day to hear yourself think and grow your life, it all begins with present moment awareness.
Photo by ginnerobot