On my way to a yoga class this week I got stuck in traffic. Heavy traffic, the kind that makes you a half an hour late even though you left a half an hour early. Yeah, that kind. I started to feel a little bit anxious because I was really looking forward to this specific class with this specific teacher. I started to feel slightly flustered and frustrated. And then, I noticed these feelings coming in and thought to myself, “feeling flustered will not get you there any faster, just be present.”
I rolled down the windows. It wasn’t a nice day but it wasn’t raining so I thought, “why not feel the breeze hit my face?” Then as I was moving 10 miles per hour I stuck my hand out the window and felt the breeze between my fingers. I felt it float through and move my hand up and down and side to side with each change in the breeze and speed of the car. And suddenly, I was a kid again.
I remember driving through the back roads of Wisconsin with my hand sticking out the window of my dads truck, noticing how the breeze made my hand feel like it was floating. I would watch it and feel and be ever-so present. In the moment. Not thinking about yesterday or thinking about tomorrow, but here and now.
I then started to think of one of my favorite things that brings me immense joy- water. My dad driving down the river in our speed boat with me hanging my hand down just far enough to feel the water as it splashed up and away from the boat. As the boat disrupted the peaceful way the water sat, it provided me with a feeling of ease. I would let my hand gently touch the smooth water just as a child would feel a fountain in a mall or a medical clinic; with bewilderment of nature.
I would just-be. There. In those small moments I could be fully present.
As a kid, you don’t realize that this is a gift. Being present is a gift. You just are living, it’s the way the mind works when you are young. But as we get older our brains are on a loop with what-ifs, ideas, regrets, excitements, yesterday, last year, tomorrow and next year. We rarely just let our minds be here in the present day. But it is a practice and something that I have been working harder on.
I was driving to class I became incredibly present and aware of how beautiful the world is. I didn’t have the same level of peace as I receive on a boat on the river I grew up loving in northern Wisconsin but it was my St. Louis version of being here. So now, when I drive in the car I stick my hand out the window and enjoy the breeze. I get present. And I invite you to do the same.
I am taking a mindfulness class at my local yoga studio and this is actually a practice that can help calm racing thoughts. When you feel like your thoughts are on a loop and you just cannot seem to calm them I invite you to open your eyes and notice things around you. Call them by name. “Trees, chair, book, breeze, etc.” Doing this tunes you into the present moment that you may have been ignoring due to your thoughts.
In the book “The Power of Now,” Eckert Tolle talks about how without noise, we cannot appreciate the silence. Thoughts will always be there but when we can get present and calm it creates such a beautiful balance to the way our brains have been running for most of our lives. Without appreciating the small moments such as feeling the breeze on your face or the sunshine on your shoulder, will you appreciate to their fullest potential?
Try it this week. When you are walking to and from I invite you to put your phone away and to call out in your head all the things that are beautiful. Even if I is something small, you can do it. I think it will bring you some joy. Let me know how appreciating small moments helps you feel a little bit more connected to the present.
Happy Thursday, my loves.
Until next time.