Being awake

From the beginning of this year in class we have been ruminating on being awake and dwelling in the present moment.

Whether we realised it or not when we started out on our yoga journey, we had made a decision to wake up from the dream that most people remain in throughout their life.

Waking up is not without discomfort.

When we become aware of how our habits and behaviours are causing harm and confusion to ourselves and others, we have to pause, take stock and consider changing our own behaviour and reactions. It is so much easier to direct our attention outside, to look at other peoples behaviour and reactions as being the problem, but through the process of becoming awake we realise that the only person that we can change is ourself, and to direct that effort into getting other people to change is a waste of effort and unlikely to yield results.

Like it or not, now, this living breathing second, is all we have to work with. Yet we can, and most of us do, conduct our lives as if we have forgotten that we are actually here. In every moment we are at the crossroads of here and now. But the crossroads gets obscured, so we can’t see that we are here, now, and then…..we are lost.

We momentarily lose touch with ourselves, and with the full extent of our possibilities, it is as if we are sleepwalking through life, breaking contact with what is deepest in ourselves, that part of us that gives us opportunities to create, to learn and to grow. If we are not careful those clouded moments can become most of our lives……

To allow ourselves to be truly in touch with where we already are, no matter where that is, we have got to pause in our experience for long enough to let the present moment sink in, long enough to actually feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness, to hold it in our awareness, and so come to know and understand it better.

Only then can we accept the truth of this moment of our lives, learn from it, and move on. Instead  we become preoccupied with the past, with what has already happened knowing that we cannot change it no matter how much energy we invest in it, or with the future that has not arrived yet.

We look for somewhere to stand, where we hope things will be better, happier, more the way we want them to be, or the way they used to be. And most of the time we are only partially aware of this inner tension, if we are aware of it at all.  And even more seriously, we are only partially aware at best, of what exactly we are doing in, and with, our lives, and the effects our actions, and more subtley, our thoughts, have on what we see and don’t see, what we do and what we don’t.

We usually fall, quite unaware, into assuming that what we are thinking –the ideas and opinions that we harbour at any given moment in time – are  the ‘truth’ about what is ‘out there’ in the world and ‘in here’ in our minds.  And most of the time……it just isn’t so.

We pay a high price for this mistaken and unexamined assumption, for ignoring the richness of our  present moments..the fallout accumulates silently, colouring our lives, blocking our view of the sign at the crossroads of the here and now, so that we do not know where we actually are, never quite in touch with the fullness of our possibilities.

But there is an alternative way of being. We can choose to be awake. To be present in as many of our living breathing moments as we can, whether those moments are pleasant or unpleasant, welcome or unwelcome, comfortable of painful. Through the process of your yoga practice you are choosing to dissolve the clouds that occlude your view of your life, you are choosing to wake up.

Wisdom from Jon Kabat-Zinn”Where ver you go, there you are”.

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