Deep Dive Into Presence
The Observation Deck
How’d you do with Challenge #1? Did you meditate? If yes, how did you feel afterwards? Is it something you think you might continue to do; even incorporate into your daily life? Haven’t tried it yet? Why not give it a go right now? One of the great things about this meditation is that it’s simple to do and you can do it for however long or short you like. And here’s another wonderful benefit of meditation: you’ll feel some of the physical effects almost immediately. That’s because merely becoming aware of your breathing -- and quietly monitoring your inhalation/exhalation cycle has a calming, centering effect that can come in handy during our hectic daily routines.
The Ultimate Pickup Artist
Ever thought about the kind of person a smartphone would be if it could be suddenly transformed from an inanimate object into human form (we think about these things!)? Here’s a thought: The ultimate pickup artist. As my gaze drifts across my desk right now, my smartphone calls out to me: “Hey, over here. It’s me. I have wonderful things to share with you. Pick me up. Turn me on. Be dazzled by my light.” Digital dependency (i.e. addiction) is pretty rampant nowadays. Reaching for the phone for no real reason. Surfing Facebook or YouTubing till the clock strikes 3:00am. Binging Netflix all weekend. Screens are a part of our lives now. And as much as there’s much to be gained, and learned, from all the glowing pixels (JOOL included!), too much screen time distances us from the here and now; this present moment.
Practicing presence -- making time for it in our lives -- is a powerful antidote that reconnects us with our essential nature, and there are few better places to do this than nature itself. After all, this Earth is our ancestral stomping grounds. Meditation maestro Mark Coleman’s book, Awake In The Wild, is a terrific guide for reconnecting with self with a helpful assist from the great outdoors. Perhaps it’s time to put down the phone, pick up a rock, and fall in love all over again with this beautiful place we get to call home.
What About Nirvana?
Back in the 1960s there was a surge of interest in Eastern philosophy and religion. For many, when it came to meditation, this translated into curiosity about achieving “nirvana” simply defined as “...a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self...” The focus of meditation has shifted over the years. Although many serious practitioners of meditation do still seek elevated states of consciousness, many others are interested in meditative practices solely because of its beneficial effects on health and well-being. These days, the ritual trappings of religion no longer need be applied or observed.
CHALLENGE #2: Experience. Take Note. Remember.
It’s easy these days to move through aspects of our lives in a kind of mindless, sleepwalking reverie. Consider the experience of navigating multiple lanes of 70 mph traffic while being mentally focused on planning what to cook for dinner. Happens all the time. Living with greater presence helps rein that in so you can focus more fully on the experiences unfolding right in front of you.
Try this exercise. Next time at dinner, or in a business meeting, or in the park with the kids focus as directly as you can on the experience at hand. If your mind drifts off, bring it back to your immediate surroundings. Take mental notes on everything you observe. Try to fully take in, appreciate, and savor it all. Now, a day or two later, what can you recall about the experience. How does it feel? How does it affect the way you observe what’s going on now? How does it impact how you read this sentence? Try this Challenge three days running. Does it give you an observational boost? Does it deepen your moment to moment experience?
Life On Purpose, Victor J. Strecher
Mindfulness, Joseph Goldstein
10% Happier, Dan Harris
The Best Guide To Meditation, Victor N. Davich
Siddhartha’s Brain, James Kingsland
Zen Training, Katsuki Sekida
Make Peace With Your Mind, Mark Coleman
10% Happier, (app)
Insight Timer (app)