A few years back I went to a colleague's brother's funeral to support him in his time of loss. I had never met his brother before, but after attending his funeral, his life did make an impact on me from that day forward. His friends and family all had prepared things to say without sharing it with each other in advance. One after the other each went up to speak and it was soon obvious they had a common theme. As each person spoke they mentioned in their speech that they had been his best friend. As one after the other said the same thing it started to become a joke - "I thought I was his best friend too" as each laughed and went on with their speech. So, why did each person think they were his best friend? It became apparent as more and more of them spoke that the reason for this was because he was completely present when he was with each of them. One said - "he never wore a watch, but somehow he was never late and he was always on time to everything". Another said - "when he was with you he was completely focused on you and didn't get distracted."
Staying Present in a Busy World
These statements are lessons for us all and are really profound on how to live a life of intention even as simple it sounds. Most of us want to achieve this, but based on our busy lives and all the demands we have its hard to be conscious of it on a daily basis. The message behind these examples were really about being in the present moment all of the time. Being present with the people you love, with the people you work with and the people that surround you in your everyday life. It's so easy to get distracted as we are talking to someone with our phones and computers buzzing with emails, texts and phone calls. How often do we step back and take stock on how we make people feel around us. Instead, most of us are concerned more about how we feel on an individual basis but not enough about how others are affected by us. Each of us could be the nicest, most caring, well intentioned person. However; if we aren't giving the person we are with the undivided attention they deserve, their personal feelings may be that what they had to say or offer was not worthy of our full participation. I don't think most of us mean to do this, including myself, there is just too much noise that distracts us and takes us away from being focused.
This is what a yoga practice teaches us each time we come to the mat. We are alone with ourselves, our thoughts, our breath and our bodies. The practice of yoga is not really about the challenge of flexibility, it's the challenge of our mind. We have no choice but to be present. If we aren't present in what we are doing on the mat, we fall out of a pose. We have to stay focused on what we are doing with intention and not get distracted with any other thoughts or what other people are doing beside us. This lesson that yoga teaches us is the work we need to do in order to take that off the mat and into the world.
How different would our lives be if we were completely focused on each thing we are doing without distraction. How different would people feel about each other if each person was completely present and focused on the person they were spending time with rather than getting distracted. If we can learn from how people feel, we would allot the right amount of time to each thing and person we are with. We would also instinctively know the time and when it was the end of that experience time to move onto the next one. If we take this into our work day, rather than trying to "multi-task", how much more could we produce and would our decisions be better?
Stepping back and creating space to be present during your day - with each interaction - should give us all more satisfaction in what we do and how we spend our time. It's constant work and not as natural for some of us as it was for this person during his lifetime. However; if we can take away from the stories of what he left behind of a life well lived and the people around him feeling like they mattered - it's something that is constant work and that we can never stop setting our minds to do.
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