Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On Being Present

We are absent most of the time. We spend time thinking or wishing to be in some other place, there by, being absent for current situation. Be it in a conversation, or in a movie hall or even while at work, we always have an alternate reality going on inside our head. The disadvantage of this absence is that we are half-assed in the current situation, loosing the focus on what we are doing.

In my Yoga Class I often encounter such absence in people. From keeping the eyes closed for 5 minutes, to holding a difficult posture, I see various levels of absence. Heck, I see absence in myself. The reason is not the incapability in doing a posture or that pain is involved, its just that there is an inner voice in the head that keeps asking question "why do I have to do this?, cant it be any other way?" or such similar questions. If you notice it, that inner voice is not just inside the class, its everywhere in life; not just while doing uncomfortable things but even while doing comfortable things. And that voice does not cease to exist, ever.

Now that we know the presence of inner voice, what can we do with it so that we can be completely present? The answer is easy. Kill the inner voice get back to the current situation. But, killing it is not as easy as it sounds, because if it was, you would not go through the absence phase for such a long time.

The key here is to get present to what the inner voice is saying. What are the reasons it is giving for creating the alternate reality in the head. And to answer that, you need to look from a broader perspective. You know that there are 2 parts of you, one part wants to be present here (and do the postures, in case of the yoga class) and the other part constantly judges the situation as to whether it is right or wrong, whether it will work or not, etc.

At this level of clarity, you might be able to choose which voice to listen to and which voice to kill (To kill for now and focus on it later). But, at this point, you have to choose.

If you choose to listen to the judging voice, honour it. Cut off the voice which says you to be here and instead walk outside and give full concentration to the judging voice, so that you can gain clarity and come back when you are ready. Else, Cut off the judging voice for later and choose to be present completely and honour your choice. There are no good/ bad or Right/ wrong in them. It is choice/consequences. 

Since both parts belong to you, in the quest for clarity, you can’t ignore one for the other. And, if you are not able to gain clarity even at this point, then get in touch with the vision/ goal that brought you to this current situation on the first place. In this case, why did you choose to do yoga? Access that goal and see if you still want to be here.

Now, considering that your goal was to enjoy the yogic mental journey, your next action will be clear. Get present and push through the pain & disturbances for realizing the goal of experiencing the journey. If you choose to listen to the inner voice and still continue to stay in the class or choose to do yoga and continue to listen to the inner voice, know that it would be an in-congruent action towards your goal. You would be stuck in between deprived of the consequences of both the choices.

Know that you have to choose based on the consequences that you want to experience and you have to be the choice completely, 100%. So, be happy about your choice, either ways.

Not only in the Yoga class, you can take this distinction to every aspect of your life. Every time you start rejecting your reality (every time you stop being present), admit that you have just lost in touch with your goal and forgot why you are there. Take a moment and ask yourself, what was the goal I had in mind because of which I am here? Once you access your vision/ goal, the reason for being here becomes clear, and getting present becomes easy & natural.

The reason why you are unable to focus on one thing is because there is some other thing that demands your attention. Give your attention to it, gain clarity on it and then the choice will come naturally to you. Then you can be 100% committed to the one thing which you chose.