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.


Uma Gautam said...

Beautiful, Santhanam.
I totally agree...unless all thoughts, actions and energy are congruent ; aligned to one thing, it does not manifest fully.
Infact, the reason why our 'wishes' manifest in a half-baked manner and after, often, much time, is this : the absence of awareness leading to 'mixed' thoughts/vibrations...the universe then gets confused as to what you wish for and gives a 'mixed bag'; some part manifesting, some not. And after a looong time.
The time taken to manifest and the quality and richness of the manifestation of your desire/wish, is directly proportionate to one's awareness.
In Yoga, 'Dharana' , the 6th step of the yogic ladder, is all about this. About becoming single-pointed, focused...
Thank you, Santhanam, for bringing attention to this 'life-changing' insight !!


Sunder said...


Chan Mou said...

A well articulated expression on the thought process of "on being present".Yes, seeking the source of why you switched to that particular thought, while doing something, will surely help. Its difficult to seek the source (at least at the beginning) because as you know intuitive decisions leaps far more distances than its logical counterpart the "unconscious self" rides the intuition and kills your very first attempt to seeking the source of switched thought. I see an equivalent electrical analogy from lenz's law. When you tie your act with the "self preservation program" you get the attention of the unconscious. You cannot always tie it but.. if you make an attempt to manipulate your unconscious/subconscious part you will get hold of the present. Try wearing a roller skate (or for that matter any act that leads to self destruction if not present) and stay standing still for a moment without wearing a helmet. There is no way you cannot be present. The expression on manifestion in a "half-baked manner" - i liked the term. Watch the movie "sphere".

Unknown said...

Thanks Uma, Your comment is so empowering me!

Thanks Sunder ;)

Thanks. Your comment is extremelly articulated as well. The "unconscious self" comes from the past, which is logical, whose basic job is to provide fight/flight response every moment. This self is not at all creative as its only job is to respond. And, the other self, the intuitive self, which is nothing but space (or the oneness) is completely creative and is only PRESENT.

Deepak H P said...

Hey Santa,

Good one mate. Felt really nice reading it. I loved the part where you say that we have inner voices even while doing comfortable things. So true. But, the fact is we do have a lot of things that keep running in our mind, hence the need for multitasking or i would call multithinking.( if it exists!!). I belive the inner voice might lessen, but never cease to exist.

Unknown said...

Thanks Deepak.

Looking at it closer, Even while multi tasking, there is a time where you switch from one task to other (of the many tasks). So, at a given moment, you only do one thing.

Let me give you a simple exercise... Try saying "Love" out loud while thinking "Hate". At that exact moment of saying it, you should think the other thing.
If you try this, you will see that it is not possible. There will be slight gap in time in between the two of them.

Cheers mate ;)

Unknown said...

Hi Santi:

Im reading this post everyday!

Thats what people call "Conscious Competence".

Your thought shows that you are qualified for teaching.

The title itself (On being present) a very impressive one.

As you know, I am a kind of person who constantly dreaming :).. I remember the days when I have completely involved in what I was doing and achieved something really good.

Inspiring post.. Good on you santa!!!

I can see amazing changes in your thoughts and expressions...

Keep rocking!!!

Deepak said...

Excellent Santa.. for this wonderful insight!! I thoroughly enjoy your style of expression and ofcourse the content!!

Bowing to either half of our inner voice to give 100 percent to the present will open up a lot of other things too.

But your technique of "focusing on goal" to kill the incongruent half of the inner voice requires you to first identify that it is incongruent (or the other half is congruent). This is easy and straight forward in the example you discussed. But, its not the case when you are unaware of the consequences of the action you are doing in the present. I have experienced that focusing on the goal doesnot always give clarity.

Unknown said...


Thank You. Thank You. And, Thank You.
Glad to see it makes a difference in you.

Unknown said...

Thanks Deepak,

For one, a kind comment and secondly, I can see that you considered and applied what i have mentioned here ;)

On what you have further put forth, Our absence is rooted on various layers. Once, you get present and uncover the duality (the split between the current situation & the inner voice) in 1 layer, and still could not be present completely, there is duality to be
removed in the next layer and so on. Only then you can get completely present. As you said, it is not easy. It needs effort. But, it is very rewarding. A space opens up in you.

To explain that, with the example i have used,
When in yoga session, if you find yourself thinking about what happened in work yesterday, Now, to get present you have to first know that the thought about your work is bothering . If according to you, the problem at work is trivial,it gets easy to choose, but if it is substatial, then the choosing is not easy at this point. In the next level of probing, see if it can be handled after finishig the class - whatever it takes - it may involve makeing a couple of calls, finishing a few tasks and so on. Then, at this level of clarity the choice becomes easy. If not, then next level of probing is to be done. It keeps going on until clear choice remains and you can be completely present (wherever).

And, yes the more difficult to get present, more work to be done. But at the end, the fruit of clear space awaits and you can do anything in that space. :)