An issue of presence

Today I woke up and headed to a morning hot yoga class at my local yoga joint. I was all set to be present in the moment and embrace each drop of sweat that popped out of my pores but when I got there I couldn’t turn my racing brain off. It was yelling at me in lightening speed like a man with tourettes on public transport:

‘Hopefully I will be able to get the time off for Cuba’… ‘I wonder if Tim will want to come to this party tonight?’…’How will I fit it all in’… ‘I wonder if the yoga teacher has long luscious hair under that head wrap’… ‘I must stop spending so much money on eating out with friends’…’Gosh, that coffee was good, I’d love another one’…’How come she always wears that head wrap?’…’to save money could I have my friends around to my apartment to eat bowls of lentils with me instead of going out?’…’I should probably stop buying coffee out too’…

Round and round it went until I felt like the top of my head might fly off and little bits of dried brain confetti would explode out and scatter all over the other people in the class. And that would go down like a sack of potatoes. Everyone gets this constipated look on their faces if the tiniest sneeze escapes your nose, I couldn’t even imagine what would happen if brain membrane was involved. I would probably get banned for life from the class, and then where would I go to relax and be in the present moment?

However, at least I recognized I wasn’t in the moment. I had clarity of thought about not having clarity. But how do you switch your brain off? I kept trying to think of a peaceful stream with crystal clear water lapping rhythmically but this just made me think of the Kevin Bacon thriller The River Wild. I don’t even really remember that movie but that’s where the mind took me. Last week when I was getting a Thai massage I was trying to turn my brain off so I told myself to listen to the soft rainforest music in the background. It all started so well, I was imagining a luminous green forest with twisted tree limbs and damp dewy undergowth, and the next thing I know I am thinking of Rambo 1 when Stallone is in the forest going mental and killing everyone. Certainly not a peaceful and calming thought.

I didn’t give in though, I kept trying to escape the whirling thought trains that collided inside my head. I don’t know if I truly reached that point of complete presence during my 60 minute yoga class but by the time we were laying down and into the relaxation part of the class my thoughts seemed to be slightly more focused. I tried to concentrate on the inside of my head; how it looked in there. I use to hate looking into my own head, afraid I might get trapped there and never escape, but now I find it quite intriguing. It’s always a swirl of playful shadows and pulsating lights. Looking into my mind seemed to stop it wandering as much as it had been. Like I had to step in there to give it a good talking to, reprimand it for it’s endless chatter.

I love the notion of living in the now, that there is no ‘next’ because the ‘next’ minute you might get run over by a yoga mat delivery man leaving the yoga class, but sometimes it’s just so hard to actually do. And it’s a little stressful to think that you might get run over any second. Would probably turn you into a right paranoid nutcase, always looking suspiciously at cars, like they are just waiting to put you over their bonnet.

I decided to be lenient and forgiving with myself. You don’t just pick up a violin and know how to play, it takes years of practice. I guess you just have to commit to the practice. So I will dedicate myself to practicing mindfulness daily. Stop, take a look inside the mind and see if the shadows can show me the pathway to nirvana. It just might take a bit longer than one Saturday morning yoga session.

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