Sitting down on my yoga mat in front of my television I begin following the guidance of the YouTube yoga instructor. After about two seconds I think “I’m hungry, I should get up and eat something.” Then my foot itches, I scratch it, adjust, and my mind starts wandering while the video plays on unheeded. Bringing my attention back I notice that a minute has already gone by. A minute that I missed. Now I wonder if I should just skip yoga today and do something else. But what? Well there are so many things to do. And so it goes, on and on, my concentration wandering until I can rein it back in.
One of the most helpful pieces of guidance that comes up in the yoga videos I’ve watched is the instruction to set aside my to-do list and anything on the docket for the day. That’s where my mind will often go. To whatever it is I have to do AFTER I’m done with yoga. But there’s no reason to concern myself with that. Once I’ve decided to sit down and do it, the stuff going on later will still happen later. No reason to go over it in my mind. I’m here for a reason and I might as well make use of the time. But there’s that urge to constantly do something, anything else, rather than what I’m currently doing. And it’s not as though if I was to do that other thing that my attention would be quieted. It would be moving on to the next thing and the next on to infinity.
It is a lack of being present. Being focused on some other time and place and idea than what’s right there. Even as I was writing this I stopped to send a music recommendation to a friend. It wasn’t necessary in that moment, but a learned habit of giving in to my wandering mind. An unconscious concept that there’s some other thing that’s better, bigger, more fulfilling, more something. It’s not true. There is only this moment. The grass being greener on the other side of the fence is an illusion we convince ourselves of. The grass is greener here, where we water it.
Back to my yoga practice, once I do resist the temptation to be anywhere else but where I am I relax. Actually resist is the wrong word. I submit to the moment and let each moment flow into the next without force or resistance. I feel less anxious. It’s like starving an addiction. Little by little it begins to lessen. It’s much more peaceful and enjoyable than the alternative. I’m able to focus on my body and its sensations. I notice where I’ve been holding tension, but was unaware because I was keeping myself unaware. It feels good and more satisfying to not constantly be trying to accommodate every stray thought that comes into my head. This is what I’m doing now and I don’t need to worry about anything else at the moment. It’s a freeing feeling.
I’ve tried taking that feeling into the rest of my life. And it’s not at all about forcing that feeling. That will never work. It’s giving in to and submitting to the moment, whatever that moment consists of. If I’m upset, rather than fighting that feeling to move onto something “better” I try to let the feeling be and experience it. Typically unpleasant feelings pass faster in this way because I’m not holding on to them and trying to force something to be what it’s not. It comes down to the fact that right now is the only thing we have. The past is gone, irretrievably. The future will never arrive, always floating illusory, just out of arm’s reach. Now is it. Rather than fighting now, give in to it. Let it flow over you. Experience it. Submit to the moment.