Tag Archive: yoga

On Being Present

Being present has been on my mind lately. It’s funny because it seems that the 2 occasions when one is fully present are:

1 – when you’re purposely thinking about it, consciously being present
2 – when you’re completely not thinking about it, when you’re really into what you’re doing

Here are some times when I feel I’m the most naturally, effortlessly mindful and present:

 Being Barefoot

Walking barefoot connects you with the earth, lets you feel every single step you take, makes you conscious of where you walk to avoid stepping on something unpleasant. You can’t walk barefoot outside without having your mind on the sensation. It’s like seeing the ground in extreme detail through your feet. Every pebble, every crack in the sidewalk, the soft coolness of grass, the heat radiating from sun-warmed pavement, the resistance of rock, the yielding of sand.


Found it!

The passing of the geocache.

It’s like being Indiana Jones without the bad guys chasing you. Finding clues, searching for treasures, opening containers to see what others have left – it’s SO fun!  I find that when my little posse and I go geocaching, we seem to be very ‘in the moment’. Each little step or discovery that gets us closer to our find is so exciting. Watching my son find a cache, talking about where we think the clues are leading, searching through the cache once it’s found and looking at each article, deciding what we’ll leave behind for the next treasure hunters – it’s always an adventure and we never miss a moment of it as it happens.

Eating grapes

I make a point of enjoying each grape that I squish in my mouth. I bite down just enough to crack the skin, then kind of stick my tongue in and turn it inside out so that the next bite is a crazy splash of juicy, grapey goodness.


I love yoga. I really do. But I have to admit that my favourite part is the ending when we lay there and relax. It’s unbelievable to me that doing ‘nothing’ could feel that amazing. The whole class feels good, but the relaxation, integration and inner focus is so centering and energizing. Afterward I feel like I’m back on track, fresh and balanced and renewed. There’s just nothing like it.


Sleepy boy on a boat ride.

My little guy taking a rest on my lap during a ride up the creek.

Being close to another person, close enough that cuddling is something you do together, is one of the best things in the world. The warmth of your co-cuddler, their smell, the fact that they find comfort in being close to you as well. It’s hard not to pay attention to that.

So….can I apply my ability to be in the now to other situations?

If I can eat grapes mindfully, then why do I stuff popcorn in my face? Perhaps I could use my grape-eating mindset when eating popcorn, enjoying each kernel, feeling its texture and fully tasting its salty, buttery deliciousness as it dissolves in my mouth. (Ok, I think I can see why I inhale it.) If I can live each moment of geocaching, why not try to be fully present while grocery shopping? Can I smell the freshly baked bread as I pass the bakery? Do I feel the chill of the coolers in the dairy aisle? Do I realize how many germs are on the handle of my grocery cart?

How about you…?

After much practice and training of your mind, do you think it becomes easier to slip into being mindful and present on a regular basis? When are you the most mindful?

This is part 2 of the Mindfulness Through Photography post I just wrote….That was a synopsis of the seminar. This is a compilation of nuggets of wisdom, thought provoking tidbits, things bouncing around my head and stuff we talked about at the workshop.


  • Consider trying to be aware of how you view a situation/person/feeling/whatever. Are you passing judgement on it or are you accepting it? Even good judgements are still judgements.

    What do YOU think?

  • Sometimes judgement can be the opposite of compassion. Rather than pass judgement on someone, including yourself, consider a compassionate view. Perhaps you will find that you have a great capacity for it. (I need to work on this one.) And do practice compassion and gentleness toward yourself. We usually think of it in terms of other people, but you need to be nice to you.
  • Carolyn Coker Ross describes the Buddhist idea of radical acceptance – “Radical acceptance is accepting what is on a deep level without judgment – not saying it’s right or wrong but just that it is.” Trying to change or control what is leads to more suffering. She goes on to say, “It is not the size or severity of the problem that makes us able to accept what is.  It is our intention to heal.  An intention to heal brings us back to love which is the destination of our soul’s journey to healing.”
  • Chatter/self-talk isn’t necessarily bad, but being aware that your chatter is just that – chatter – and not a definite truth, is important. Just today, my mind was on a chattering tangent while I was cleaning the bathroom. I heard my mind say, “It’s your own fault, you could have avoided it.” Thankfully, I was able to let go of that nasty, hurtful thought, realizing that it was my own self-doubt talking and not a truth.

This 2nd verse of the Tao Te Ching applies here.

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.


  • Psychology Today describes mindfulness as…”a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

    In the moment.

  • Be a witness to your mind. Realize that you are not your thoughts. When you observe yourself thinking or reacting, you’re aware of, or witnessing, your mind. The witness is a non-critical observer.
  • Mindfulness can be an effective antidote to anxiety. It can bring you through a situation, present in the moment rather than having your mind run wild.
  • Pay attention to your body as a witness. This is one of the exercises I like in yoga. The instructor leads us as we focus on each part of our bodies, checking in, not judging whether it feels good or bad, just noticing. It’s a great way to get your head in the right space for yoga and I think it would make a good beginner meditation for those of us whose minds wander easily.
  • Breathing meditations and exercises are great ways to relax and to be in the present moment.
  • While you’re doing your best to focus, sometimes stuff comes up. That’s ok. Own it. Make a choice about what you do with it. Use your reaction to it as insight.
  • Invite your witness to observe, validate and let go.


  • We have to discipline our minds for stillness. We all have so many responsibilities, distractions and obligations that accessing our internal stillness can be very difficult. It’s worth the effort.
  • Inner peace; in the moment; just being…what is it to you?

Sunshine Savasana

My yoga class has the extreme privilege of practicing in the beautiful, naturally lit hardwood dojo on the upper floor of Tallack Martial Arts. On a clear day, the mid-morning sun streams in, warming the room and creating an absolutely lovely environment for yoga. Surrounded by wood, beeswax candles, incense and a welcoming atmosphere, you can’t help but feel great.

The beautiful hardwood dojo at Tallack Martial Arts.

A few weeks ago, near the end of class during the savasana (assimilation, integration, relaxation) pose, I found that the sun had moved onto my yoga mat. Rather than shift to keep the brightness out of my eyes, I decided to get into position despite the sunbeam.  This proved to be a perspective-changing experience. As I lay on the mat, letting go, feeling each part of my body relax, clearing my mind, the sun shone on my face and the warmth I felt was like an epiphany. I’ve almost always avoided the sun, being easily burnt and afraid of developing skin cancer. I’m all about sunscreen and sunglasses. But as the light shone through the window, it enveloped me like a gentle, loving hug. No seriously. It was unbelievably pleasant. I felt connected. I thought to myself, “This summer is going to be great. The sun will be out and I’ll get to feel this all the time.”  Then I remembered my fear of sunburn/skin cancer  and rephrased my thought to, “Each time I feel the sun warming me (however short the duration) I will appreciate it and be completely present so as not to miss the opportunity to feel the connection between me, the sun and everyone and everything else that is part of the universe.”

Now I know why they do that.

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