In his book Stoep Zen, Antony Osler writes much about the importance of being in the present moment. I love the following words: “If we pay attention and live from our belly – without the habitual veil of thinking that stands between us and our experience – then whatever we see, hear, touch or smell is the truth. It is the content of our life at this moment, the place where we truly live.”
Being someone who lives in my head a lot, I often miss the gifts of the present moment. What helps me to tune into the present is to make time to be in nature, and to activate all of my senses as I experience what is around me.
I listen. I notice all the different bird calls and think of it as a symphony, which it is, daily. I sit on my patio and watch a vervet monkey balancing on a telephone wire, a woodland kingfisher come to brighten the concrete fence in front of me and a green parrot swooping down to inspect the pawpaw tree at the bottom of our garden. And the hadedas of course, loudly announcing the important business of the day.
I take myself on walks. I focus on my breathing and on what is immediately around me.
Today on the beach I see a split-open coconut shell. I feel the rough textures of the hairs and cut off a piece of flesh so that I can smell it. I walk into the water with the coconut shell, fill it and watch as the water seeps out through a crack in the base. I am reminded of Leonard Cohen’s words, “ There is a crack in everything; that’s where the light comes in.”
I walk along the sand, feeling the many textures beneath my feet – one stretch like candyfloss; another a loofah rubbing off the dead skin. I focus on the face of a toddler putting his feet into the cold sea water. I turn my attention to a container ship; a street child accepting the rest of my chips and money for bread; the soft serve ice cream swirls of the waves…
I return to my everyday life with little pockets of kindness to give away to car guards, an old lady at Spar, the harried teller at the bank. The smiles I get are enough for me.
As a change management and transition coach I find that it really helps my clients and me to stay focused, motivated, positive and creative when we are fully present; fully engaged with life as it is at any given moment.
Perhaps tomorrow we can all make a point of practising the present moment.
I would love to hear your stories.