I decided recently that I wanted to make an extra effort to really “be” with the people I’m with, to cherish our time together, and be fully present with them.
The more I thought about this, the more I realized how many places this idea is applicable. It’s important to be with ourselves, the people around us, our feelings, our emotions, and our experiences – fully and completely, and a part of that is accepting them, as they are.
What does being entail?
We don't need to learn to be. Being is something we are. It is an ability that resides within us all, though sometimes it can get lost between the hustle and bustle of life. So if we want to be, we need to think about returning to our natural state of being, where we can be fully present with ourselves, our feelings, and our people, as well as accepting all just as it is in that moment.
Why practice being?
By being with people around us, as they share their experiences with us, we convey empathy, they feel understood, and the connection between us and them gets strengthened.
How to practice being
Places to start
When you wake up in the morning
Before going to bed
Meals with friends and family
(This list is just the beginning for where I’m choosing to start this practice. I’d love to hear where you plan to start!)
This past weekend I, along with some friends journeyed to the Mohonk Mountain House, in New Paltz, NY, Once there, we basked in the beauty of the nature that surrounded us, and spent most of our time "doing nothing" / sitting and enjoying the present moment. The yoga, meditation, and stretch classes we took enhanced our deep appreciation for being there, relaxed, and fully present.
We played board games, drank tea, and sat on numerous couches the had fire places close by…
Looking back on this experience, there were two important lessons I learned:
1. Balance: Multitasking vs. Uni-tasking
Over the course of the weekend, I felt more present and relaxed there than I have in a while. I think that’s probably because when we did something, we did ONE thing. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back I know that was one of the reasons for the presence and relaxation I experienced.
So often we do more than one thing at once, so I left with an intension: To spend more time doing one thing at a time. It’s been a few days, and so far, so good.
Try: Balancing multitasking with uni-tasking (I may of made up that word). Choose a slot in your day, (it can be one minute! Or an hour! Or more! Or less! – It’s up to you) where you will practice doing ONE THING AND ONLY ONE THING. Give yourself to it fully, and see what happens. From my experience, if you practice this daily, it will enhance your creativity, productivity, relationships, and overall quality of life.
2. Wonder: Making The Usual Unusual
During my time away, I became fascinated by the barren trees/their branches. There were so many different kinds/shapes! Everywhere we went, and every view we took in, there they were, the trees, and their beautiful and unique branches! Branches unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Now I know you might be thinking… branches? Who cares about branches… but these very branches taught me a very important lesson. These very branches have changed the way I have been going about my day... and so I am so grateful to those branches.
After spending so much time around the trees, my first day back in New York and I couldnt stop looking at the trees as I walked to work. I always walk the same way, yet never noticed and appreciated the trees and their branches in the way that I did that morning, and continue to do. It's amazing how experiences make us see things in a completely new way, and can spark and unexpected form of wonder. (See post on cultivating Wonder)
Try: Paying attention to something you never paid attention to before! Find your own form of “Branches!” Try looking at the usual with a new set of eyes, making it an unusual experience.
I like to think about our minds as being the most valuable real estate property, and our thoughts as being the "tenants." To get into the best properties, potential tenants are usually screened, and then presented to a board before they get approved.
Our minds work a little differently. They allow thoughts to enter it without any type of screening. And they have the potential to effect us, for better or for worse.
The answer? Moving through the day mindfully, consciously aware of of our thoughts as they come and go. This way, there is no "good" or "bad" thoughts, rather there are thoughts that you chose to have there. They are welcome and wanted. They are like a good room-mate or neighbor. A pleasure to have around.
Today: Dedicate 5 minutes to paying attention to your thoughts, allowing them to come, and choosing which "tenants" you want to allow into your most valuable property, your mind. This can be done in a comfortable seated position, or as you move throughout your day.
Photograph via http://www.occupy.com/