How to be present in your every day life~
What we learned through brain waves is that when we are doing a task and thinking about something else- it takes a lot of brain energy, and the brain cannot rebuild and reorganize while it is processing so much. Just the act of being present and being mindful or thinking about what you are doing slows down your brain waves where you can work and still let the brain re-organize and rebuild, as it needs to would be a fountain of youth for your brain. Instead of your brain having only sleep time to detoxify and reorganize, now your brain can continue to grow and refresh in the daylight hours. Brain anti-aging this is!
The act of being present helps us slow down our brainwaves to the alpha state, this is one of the ways we can operate in a more meditative state where we are more productive and creative. Just the act of being present puts your brain in coherence between the four regions and helps it run more efficiently.
And remember my talk about the wave and particle and how when we can operate in the wave we seem to be very productive? Being in the wave is associated with the slower brain waves of alpha and theta. There fore being present will help us be in the wave 🙂
Its hard to practice presence even in a meditation or a yoga class — how do we take this being present mindset into our busy and active days?
Be with what you are doing. Remember the old buddhist saying?
“Chop wood and carry water” When you chop the wood, just think about chopping the wood while you chop the wood … kinda gets boring … how about; While carrying water think about how your muscles need to support your body while you carry the weight of the water, how strong you are and how fortunate you are to be able to do this!
I mentioned in the alpha and theta brain waves we are more productive, here is a little example for me — and this is just one of many ways we could be more productive using our brain waves:
This first story is about how the universe became more productive for me when I aligned my consciousness with the present:
Cane Spiders and Geckos … We have both here and geckos love to eat cane spiders 🙂 (this is good!). One night I am in the tub and I see remnants of a mostly eaten cane spider left over up high on the wall close to the ceiling … as usual my mind starts to wonder how am I going to get up there can clean that now? It’s another “thing” I have to do… Then I caught myself —
First I thought ‘There I go again thinking about what I have to do and not just enjoying the bathtub’ … then I caught myself falling into the habit of being hard on myself … sigh. Oh well at least I caught myself!
So I slip into my breathing and meditative mind for a bit … focusing on detoxing and relaxing and enjoying my bath.
I open my eyes several minutes later and something up near the dead spider is moving … I look … it’s a roach eating it.
Thank you Universe!
Chopping coconuts … When I practice being with the axe and the coconut I get a clean swipe right where I was aiming all the way through. When I am distracted when I’m trying to open the coco it takes me several swings and I only get half way through then have to flip it over and whack it from the other side.
Another example: when I am getting acupuncture, if I put my mind and thoughts into the needle as it is being inserted and moved around my chinese doctors can feel it almost as a little zing in the needle.
Here’s your experiment; In our class today see if you can just be with your breath — don’t think about performance or I did this right or I should be able to do that, oh I’m so tight today … – blah blah. How many have said that (my hand is up)?
Just think about your breath with each movement and maintaining that in and as you get out of the poses. Try not to judge yourself in the poses just come back to your breath — and if you have bandwidth for it add you bandhas to it!
My guess is you will have one of your best practices ever.
Another nice option to keep yourself present with your practice, just before you start; set an intention to draw your mind back to each time it wanders. The intention can be to heal an achy area in your body or perhaps you are trying to create something new in your life; a new job or something like that — then set your intention to see in your minds’ eye yourself in that job. Each time your mind leaves your mat you can bring it back with your intention, or your breath.
And the nice benefit of being present with your yoga practice means you can not judge it! When you are present you don’t remember how you did the pose last year, last week, 5 years ago, or even yesterday.
This is a common practice – sankalpa is a Sanskrit word that means intention and it is how each yoga nidra class is started.
Try to keep your mind focused around what you are doing and see how much more productive you are. This is easier if you start your day off in a meditative state!
When we run around our days “busy” and looking at our chores as one more thing to mark off “done” we are supporting the aging process in the body. It literally drains your brain, your nervous system, and your body … Where as if we can slip into the alpha and theta states throughout our day we slow down the aging process … this is a fountain of youth of types!
This was hardest for me during my child rearing years … as a mom with also a thriving career our plates can get a little full … there’s just so much to do in a day ! If you can truly grab a hold of the present moment not only will you be more productive, you’ll also be able to give your children the gift of your presence … even if only for 15 minutes you can step into their world and play and be engaged — it is a very rewarding experience and different from thinking about work as you spend time with your child. Thich Naht Hanh describes being present with a person as the best present you could gift them with.
I have found this with my youngest grand daughter …. wish I had more of it when my kids were young!
One of the ways to start to set this habit in your thinking is to set the habit first thing in the morning as soon as your eyes blink open.
First thing upon waking ~ try to stay in your dreamy state, do a few stretches (below), then sit up and meditate for 18 breath slow breaths.
More on this in this blog.
- Upon first awakening I lie in bed in supta samastitihi — how we lay for a few breaths before we go to shoulder stands. I get a hold of my breath.
- With an inhale I lengthen my right leg beyond my left. Exhale here
- with the next inhale while I hold the length in my right leg I stretch my right arm up and over head lengthening my right waist and stretching the whole side of my body – hold for 3-5 breaths
- Re. L – This little stretch wakes up your nervous system and prepares your nerves for a calm day …
- Apanasana – I hug my knees to my chest with an exhale, inhale pump my knees away, exhale pull in, etc.
- I finish with some moving and breathing gentle spinal twists
These are the movements I find helpful. What movements would feel good to you upon awakening?
Another way to keep your awareness present : Appreciation of beauty and excellence in little leaves — take a maple leaf for instance. Have you ever looked at how strong and sturdy a maple tree can make a maple leaf? When you work in your garden admire the plants, even the weeds. Are you not amazed how strong a little baby tree weed is? You can’t even pull some of them out of the ground.
Talk to trees, you’ll be happier than if you are spinning thoughts in the back of your mind. When you are outside – notice the plants around you. Even in winter notice how the trees behave in winter differently. Are there any birds in the sky? These are ways you start to program yourself to be present.
Think “thanks” and gratitude about what you are doing in this exact moment.
When walking do EFT tapping or walking and breathing “meditations” to help stay present.
Pay attention to your thoughts — analyze what you are thinking while you are driving, washing dishes, taking a bath/shower … Just pick one or two of these areas — I started with dishes as being a foodie and loving to cook there are always dishes … Try to make it a habit ~ every time you do dishes (or whatever chore you chose) see if you can get a grip on your thoughts and direct them toward a theta state. Ways I have done this ….
Honestly paying attention to washing the dishes when I’m washing the dishes is a little boring. The old buddhist way of being with the dish hasn’t quite grabbed me.
Maybe this is why we have songs like …
This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes, This is the way we wash our clothes so early in the morning ….
For me~ when I want to be present with washing the dishes, I get into my posture, where are my shoulders, how’s my bandhas? Is my belly just hanging out or engaged? I put my tongue on the roof of my mouth, relax my jaw, and find my breath … How slow can I take my breath? Relax my eyes, can I find the theta state where I can do dishes and lengthen my telomeres?
One of the most important places to start to pay more attention to your presence is when you eat. This is a big Buddhist lesson; and it is believed when you are present with what you are eating you will digest it better and absorb more nutrients from the food you eat. Ayurveda teaches this too and includes not to eat during a stressful event
Being in the flow or zone is being present! Usually when we are in this zone we are actively engaged in an activity that requires concentration, we want to be this absorbed with chores such as washing the dishes where we don’t have to think about what we are doing. Our bran has networks; one of the networks is the default mode network — it’s basically your brain default that you fall into when you are resting or doing a repetitive activity that does not require a lot of brain power.
There is some interesting research coming out on our default mode networks, I will be writing more about this in another blog. There is a connection to default mode network and cognitive challenges such a alzheimers, etc. My guess — and this will have to be researched more by me — is that those whose default mode network is rumination or worry, may be at an increased risk for cognitive decline than someone who’s default mode network is more productive.
Breath for being present — whether you are becoming present for a meditation practice or doing the dishes — here is a nice way to “clear your mind space” so you can be present before you start an “everyday chore” — and any project:
Resurrection Breath (taken from Dr. Joe Tatta podcast with Lisa Pearson)
- Inhale through nose – Turn head L and do a HA HA through the mouth
- Blow/push away the past.
- “haha” is about what did happen in the past 😉
- Inhale turn head center
- Exhale turn head R and purse or round lips and exhale slowing
- blowing away the future
- blowing away worries
- blowing away thoughts about what could happen
- Inhale center
- Exhale to anjali mudra (balance)
Set your intention to be present – and go on with what you are doing.