The Art of Being Present
What does it actually mean to be ‘present’? We talk about it so much in yoga. I tend to explain it as ‘being there to welcome each moment as it comes, without worries about the future or reflections on the past…’
In our modern lives, the idea of being present is often affiliated with experiencing a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing – it sounds so simple – but is it? We’re not on a yoga retreat somewhere exotic, we’re not living in a monastery… sometimes, we have very real stresses, so how can we just turn them off? Living in the present is interwoven and intricately connected to our happiness, so it’s more vital to understand what works for you… What works for you in your real, unfiltered, modern life? I don’t think you have to meditate to find a presence but ultimately ask yourself:
Where is my body now? And is my mind also in that now?
Imagine you’re eating tea. Are you appreciating the tastes and textures… the hot and cold sensations… the experience of eating, as your body is doing it? Or are you checking off your to-do-list, chatting about your day or encouraging your toddler to eat their peas? Imagine you’re out for a run on the beach and your feet are moving over the sand, as the sound of the waves lapping into shore mixes with your breathing and you feel the heat of your legs pounding. That’s your body’s now. That’s the present. Not the feelings or events earlier in the day or the feeling when you finish. At times, when our minds feel full, when our patience is thin or our emotions feel unbalanced, then understanding how to help yourself is vital. It doesn’t have to be something big!
An Arty Time of It
This week, my mum and I tried something new, something arty, and I found some unexpected, very welcomed calm!
For her birthday, Laura and I bought us a workshop with UniquEco Designs in Alnwick. Transforming their workspace into an open studio, Becky and Ivor run bespoke workshops and also display local art to peruse and purchase. During the workshop, Becky demonstrated how to ‘paint’ with different coloured Angelina fibres (90% recycled from industrial waste including plastic bottles) & a diverse colour range of Merino wool tops. We were also shown how to incorporate other materials in the creation and how to fuse it safely with an iron. It was then our chance to try this for ourselves.
My Mind Was Calm
I can honestly say that I was interested and engaged throughout – I was right there! In fact, I was quite shocked that the 3 hours passed so quickly. What really struck me was that I wasn’t ‘trying to be’ – it was natural and easy, I guess. During meditations, teachers can often remind us to simply notice if thoughts come to disturb us from time to time, then bring the attention back to the breath. In this case, because my hands were separating and mixing the fibres and wools, it felt rather multi sensory and my mind was in the same now as my body. The Angelina fibres felt so soft and tactile, whilst the physical action of drawing them apart was highly therapeutic. My breathing was smooth, my mind was calm. It’s likely that other thoughts probably did pop up, but because I wasn’t looking out for them, I didn’t notice them come and go. I also enjoyed standing upright and felt a freedom and space through my body, which will have aided my breathing. Sometimes, it’s much too easy to take a seat, isn’t it? But our bodies weren’t built for such sedentary lifestyles.
It was utterly joyful to try something new, something creative, and an absolute bonus that it ended up being highly calming, being right in the present to welcome in each moment of this lovely workshop. It was also delightful to take our creations home with us as a reminder of such a canny day with my mum.
Please note we paid for this experience, as always we aren't affiliated in any way!
You can check out their website www.alnwickartisans.co.uk
© Copyright Jasmine Wellbeing Tynemouth