Theme of the month – the senses
I’ve been thinking a bit this past month about mindfulness and staying in the present moment.
Whenever I am a student in a yoga class and the teacher asks us to set an intention, more often than not, I promise myself I will stay present. My mind is so busy, working, teaching, managing, parenting, planning, living and loving. Every minute in my day represents a chance to ‘do something’. To tick something off my never ending list. Even this very moment I am stood making dinner, one eye on my son in the bath and the other typing this on my phone. My brain is always busy.
In class it can be even worse. I teach, I train teachers so it’s very rare for me to just drop into a yoga class and not think. So hence my promise in every class. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not.
But what does being in the moment really mean? In yoga philosophy there are five sheaths that make up our spiritual body and these are called the Koshas. The first three koshas are body, breath and mind – being in the moment means bringing these three together.
As my wonderful teacher Emily Stone would say ‘Get your body together, get your breath together, get your mind together, get yourself together’. As we bring it all into focus, we drop into a sense of being very much present in our own skin, in that precise moment.
Being present and mindful is becoming increasingly more difficult for us all I feel. How many of us check our phone upon waking, or find ourselves messaging when we are walking down the street or scrolled through social media updates for no reason whatsoever?
One way in which we can help ourselves find focus and therefore awareness of the moment we are in is to tune into our five senses.
In Ayurvedic terms we should never have any other distraction when eating. No TVs, radios, phones and conversation if happening should always be pleasant. Whenever you are eating or drinking, really focus on the taste of item. Being mindful when we eat is so important.
Our phones are excellent tools at keeping us OUT of the present moment and unaware what’s happening on the outside of the screen. When I was in NYC back in May I would watch at lunchtime how many (100s) of people would pass me by while looking at their phones, unaware of the humans and life bustling around them. So maybe we could be concious of the automatic impulse to look at that tiny screen and instead look at the horizon, the street, the lights, the beauty all around us.
A beautiful tool for bringing ourselves into the present moment is to stop and listen. We rarely pay attention to everything we hear. If we just stop and listen what will we hear, wind, leaves rustling, footsteps, laughter, life and more.
As with sound, how often to we stop and feel the sensations on our skin? Do we stop to feel the rain or wind or run from it? Or the sand beneath our toes, grass beneath your bare feet or even the feel the fabric of your shirt touching your skin as it drapes over your body.
Our sense of smell is such a gift. Let’s appreciate the smell of wet dirt in the cold morning dew, or the scent of coffee roasting wafting through your kitchen.
These are just a few simple ways I find I can stop and be a little more present in my day. I’d love to hear about yours! But now I need to put down my phone and cuddle my son.
Happy Sunday everyone.