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Posted on 01-20-2017
I often use the phrase “Meditation in Action” with my students and clients. It’s honestly how I think of my yoga practice now when I’m on the mat. A chance to connect with my breath, meditation, and movement all in one which equals presence. I relax and nothing else matters except the time on my mat. I’m better at this honestly than my actual meditation practice. I’m still a such a newbie to meditating.
Meditation isn’t easy. It takes time to train our minds to slow down and redirect our thoughts. To make it simple you do this by bringing your attention over and over to your breath until one day you are nothing but the breath for a minute, then three, maybe five or ten minutes. It’s a wonderful feeling and can help bring clarity to our chaos, busy, over-scheduled lives. But, there is another way to think about meditation, it's in everyday action.
I’m pretty good on my teaching days at staying super present and noticing life. I’m in my zone and talking about what I love all day long so it makes it easy. It’s the other days when my list is a mile long that can test me and I can go into my multitasking zone, or as my kids like to joke, “Claire is back.” That would be Claire from Modern Family if you’ve ever seen an episode. I must admit there are some similarities, the take charge mode, and wine. I’m not proud but honest, ha! I’ve always considered myself to be a good at multitasking. I think most mothers are. We almost have to be able to do multiple things or conversations at once to get all the things done in the day for ourselves, kids, and spouses. Have you ever asked yourself how it leaves you feeling at the end of the day or do I even do it well? Sometimes I think I do and I feel good at the end of the day when the list is all checked off, but other times anxious because I know I probably missed things because I wasn’t ever present. My mind isn’t focused on the most important thing that's right in front of me, but to the next thing on my list. Productive, maybe, but I think it creates a false sense of productiveness. Then there is the other side of the coin. I might feel accomplished and great that the list is done but the question that probably needs to be asked is, how have I left my family feeling in my wake of go, go, go, aka Claire?
As all of these thoughts run through my brain I decided to do some experimenting. I’ve begun to notice myself when I’m in my take-charge mode. I’m a bit more charged up, hyper, quicker to anger or become frustrated when things aren’t moving at my speed. I mean I’m multitasking right so everyone else should be able to go as fast as me? Of course, no one is ever in our exact shoes in that moment so hence where the frustration sets in. During these times my mind is everywhere or two steps of ahead of what I’m actually doing. I can miss things said, read an email or text wrong. Maybe even an opportunity to be a light to someone, or even skip over a mood, comment by my kids allowing me an opening to ask questions and know what’s going on. But, hey I’m getting that list done, right, so the ends justify the means. There will be another chance to catch those things later I tell myself. However, we never get those moments back, ever. There missed because the only thing that exists is now. When I think about the heaviness of that it's when I decided to start bringing awareness to myself, my habits during my “productive mode” times I like to call to make myself feel better. Even though I might be getting it all done despite the attitude, I also noticed how easily accustomed I had let my mind jump around to next sparkly thing grabbing my attention. I’m not focused because I’m not present. A scary example for you. Have you ever been in your zone driving perhaps heading in the direction of let's say school for carpool that you do every day but are supposed to be going to the store? Instead, you drive right by the store and end up pulling into school four hours earlier than needed??? GUILTY!! The message is screaming right at me, look at the list differently and stay in the moment!
So as my observation experiment opened my eyes to this one area I’ve yet to follow my own advice I give to my students I decided it was time for a change. Why wouldn’t I give this gift I allow myself on my mat to when my list of obligations start and Claire reappears? It doesn’t just have to happen right after my meditation, workout, or on my slower days when I feel great. I mean why not while charged up multitasking too. Guess what I am capable and it’s wonderful. I feel like I’m living each moment exactly how I want to live when I’m in motion and allow myself this chance. I notice things, a smile from a stranger, a wave from a toddler in the car in front of me, the way the sunlight falls or how blue or gray the sky is right then not just when I feel Zen out. I’m breathing, I’m calmer, there is no agitation brewing underneath from the pressure of doing three things at once. I sometimes even get lost in watching Lucy, my new Maltipoo puppy, playing and I have a giant smile on my face, and to top it off most days we are dancing in the car at the red light. However, the greatest amazement in this experiment, the gift I realized, was I’m never not moving or checking off the to-do list. It’s definitely slower, one or two things might end on the next list but it’s getting checked off nonetheless. The only difference is how I’m responding on those particular days. Claire is tempered, my family isn’t shoving a glass of wine in my face at the end of the day and running from me because I’ve been meditating in action. I feel like I’ve got this giant light beaming from ear to ear and I had to share.
I’m finding not only do I crave those times on my mat, I want more moments like these in my busy list driven routine. I may not be the best multitask guru anymore, but I love being present in exactly what I’m doing in that moment. I feel like I don’t miss anything. I’m showing up. How? Well, let me say it again if you didn’t catch what I was rambling on about -- yoga, meditation, and prayer have been the tools helping me transform and retrain my mind to catch myself in those rare instances when presence has become everything.
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