Balance in Life Tip #1: Be Present
By: Divya Darling
July 24, 2020
Search in Google for the term ‘Be present’ and you will find About 2,100,000,000 results (0.48 seconds), so it is like you have heard about how exquisite living can be – no matter our circumstances – when we are present with what is.
The most effective way to bring your self to what is present is to switch your focus to what you can observe in your sense. This requires that we really use our senses and observe what is here and now.. Observation is essential to success. We are sensory beings. It is through our senses we experience life. It is through our senses that we direct and instruct our mind.
If you’ve ever tried to not think – no doubt you found it an ‘interesting’ experience, didn’t you? It is virtually impossible for the mind to do nothing, isn’t it? But you can begin to direct your mind externally, noticing what is really there. This is also ‘Mindfulness’. Simply observing, without labels, words, judgements, is a challenge for our minds which tend to be meaning-making machines. The mind is constantly interpreting incoming data at the speed of light, and more often than not we respond to our interpretation (not noticing this is a distortion to a small or large degree) rather than what is truly there in the world. Hence, ‘wordless observation’ is central to gaining the awareness and control that leads to self-mastery.
When learning to draw or paint, one of the key skills is to learn to really see what you’re looking at. Many drawing instruction books note that people tend to draw what’s in their head, rather than what is actually there. So, the books set exercises to assist concentrating on particular aspects of seeing. If you are looking at a gum tree, for example, you can start to see the play of light in the branches, or lines of the trunk and branches and the different shades of bark. When you begin to REALLY look at the world you will start to see and hear things that you haven’t seen for a long time. To help you start to practice really experiencing the world through your senses (and not the language, words and labels your mind puts on it), this week we offer you an opportunity to pay particular attention in one sense per day.
Here is how: choose to be totally wordless, internally and externally for just five minutes and be fully in the sense for the day (i.e. day 1 seeing, day 2 hearing etc.). Notice how many things you can experience in that sense.
PROGRAM FOR OBSERVING WITH YOUR SENSES
Day 1 See, really see things. Start by picking an object – it could be a tree, a chair, a flower, a building – and just observe the lines, the colours, the direction from which the light is coming, the light and shadow areas, the overall shape, and detail. As much as possible do this without words, and when words do come, use them to redirect your attention to observing: that is, tell yourself to see the lines, the shadows, the colours, etc. When you’re walking – or even just sitting – allow yourself to see patterns of light, the shapes in the world around you, the lines, textures.
Day 2 Allow yourself to hear – really hear – sounds. Pick a sound (e.g. a bird song, a motor, the wind, a passing plane) and listen for high and low notes, any rhythm in the sound, the speed at which the sound is being made (e.g. speed of speaking, or bird singing), changes in volume. When you’re walking along, allow yourself to hear the symphony around you. Notice the loud and the almost imperceptibly quiet sounds, the repeating sounds and the steady sounds, the changing volume of sounds, the interplay of the sounds around you.
Day 3 Allow yourself to notice sensations – both internal and external. When sitting, where exactly do you feel the chair? Are the points of contact distributed generally or in particular areas (e.g. the sitting bones)? Notice the sensation of the textures of the clothes you are wearing. Pick an object and gently feel its texture; pick it up (if it’s pick-up-able) and feel the weight. Is it warm or cool? Does it vibrate? When walking, can you feel the air brushing past you? If there’s a wind, feel the changes in direction, speed and
Day 4 Tastes. You know what to do now, don’t you?
Day 5 Smells.
Experiencing the world, using all of your senses, provides you an opportunity to direct and master your mind and experience. It also stops you from making movies in your head of things that are not really there. It brings your awareness back to what is really here – reality. This is how you can be more fully ‘present’. Consciously living in our senses is fully and uniquely a human experience, so we anticipate you’ll enjoy a new level of aliveness this week. 😉