I absolutely love the movie Up. The story and animation are beautifully done, and I cry every time I watch. But my favorite part of the movie – and one I find poignant as a yoga teacher – is the scene when Carl and Russell meet Dug the dog and his talking collar. The irony was not lost on me when I began a search for an image of the “up dog”. The scene hilariously captures the dog’s short attention span when he’s distracted by a squirrel.It always gets me thinking about our own distracted minds, and how we spend so much of our time ‘outside of ourselves.’
Have you ever found yourself so wrapped up in a movie that you feel as if you’re actually a character in it? Or maybe you tend to get caught up in a project at work for hours only to find that you haven’t stopped to look around, breathe, or even get up and move. We have an amazing ability to send our energy wherever we want. When we pray or send thoughts of love and healing to someone in need, we’re sending that intentional energy out into the universe. It is truly remarkable. However, so much of the time, we’re unconsciously leaching energy in unproductive or even destructive ways.
Here’s a personal example. One day, I was gardening in my backyard truly enjoying the moment. The sun was shining, the dirt smelled wonderful, and I was focused on nothing but the task at hand without wandering thoughts and distractions. Then I got a phone call about a problem with a medical bill and something the insurance company wouldn’t pay. I was instantly projected into a place of anxiety and worry. There was no teleportation device, and yet I was no longer in the space that surrounded me. I no longer felt the pleasing warmth of the sun, and I allowed a single phone call to yank me out of the present and into my head.
Over the years, with much help from yoga and meditation, I’ve learned to spot those times when I allow my thoughts to beam me up into my noggin’. At first, I used a common psychotherapy technique to bring my awareness back to the present. I’d stop and deliberately look around at items in the room (or wherever I was), to bring my attention back to the space. Now, I’ve become more perceptive about when I’ve allowed my attention and thus myself to wander, and I bring awareness to the wandering itself. I become the watcher; watching the thinker.
Sometimes we try to escape the present moment on purpose because it’s too uncomfortable, but sitting with the emotion and the experience is transformative, and will allow you to move beyond it more quickly.
Whatever your habit for distraction, try to start becoming aware of when you’re NOT in the moment. That in and of itself, is presence.
- Your Charmed Yogi
- The Deva’s in the details: 5 ways to stay present
- Distraction a necessary…squirrel!
- Get up and Om with a walking meditation
- All that matters is right now