A few mornings ago, my son and I got up at 4:30 am, went outside and waited for the sun to rise. We were on our yearly vacation with the family at Lake George, NY. Waiting for the sun to rise is a meditative event. You are staring at the sky, looking for the changes in light and color. You see bits of clouds moving so you know time is passing and it is getting closer. The anticipation is exciting yet relaxing at the same time; you are focused on this moment and you don’t want to miss it! As you wait for the first second when you see the sun, it becomes difficult for your mind to drift and easy to bring it back to focus on the sky.
A sunrise is an experience that can only happen once a day and for most of us, we cannot experience this regularly. For me fishing is another activity that mimics this type of meditative event that clears my mind and brings me peace. As you cast out your rod and wait, you feel the wind, the sun, smell the smells of fresh air and wait for the slightest tug on your line. I am completely focused with my eyes on the water and my hands are waiting to feel the difference between the tug of a biting fish verses the gentle lake waves moving my line.
Our days are filled with our smart phones pulling us away from what we are doing. We live in a world of instant gratification where a DVR and Netflix eliminate our need to watch a commercial or wait until next week to watch a new episode of a TV show. Activities like fishing force us to enjoy the moment, even if we go the whole day and don’t actually catch a fish. Being present and enjoying the moment regardless of the end result is something that can be quite challenging.
Being focused was not exactly a skill I have excelled at. Although my grades were good, from a young age, teachers would note that I lacked focus, lacked self control and would often fail to read the directions and just jump into the assignment. Over the years I connected with activities that helped me stay more focused. Aside from fishing, tennis had also become a fun physical activity that also required attention.
Traditional meditation can be extremely powerful for many, but for me personally I always found it anxiety provoking. Connecting with a physical experience that also requires focus has been most effective for me. Tai Chi has been another activity, that gives me a calm and a focused mind. Because Tai Chi also incorporates breathing and very particular hand and feet movements, it requires concentration on each individual position. If you make a mis step you just move on, let it go and continue with the movements.
There are many activities aside from the sunrise, fishing, and Tai Chi that can induce, a calm mind and the feeling of being present. Painting, taking walks, journaling and just breathing are fantastic activities. When we can improve on these skills we can be more in touch with our spouses, children, friends, work, and our spirituality. We are more inclined to be a receptor for the deeper messages being sent to us by G-d, creating deeper meaning in our lives.
What keeps you present in the moment? When you go for a walk, what do you feel, see, smell? How do you reconcile your relationship with technology and your smart phone? I would love to hear from you on what you already do to be present!
Now Go, Love You,