Don’t get me wrong, I understand the idea of being present with whatever moment is in front of us, being conscious as we go through each day of that which is in the now. I aspire to this kind of presence.
The idea of bringing that awareness into my mind in a concrete thinking sort of way goes something like this: 1) I see the trash can. 2) I think, “oh, there is a red trash can” and 3) I wonder what it would be like to never see that trash can again. It feels like an existential exercise (if the red trash can is not here for me to see, does it, in fact, still exist?).
Maybe there’s another example that will work better.
Let’s try this: 1) I see my child buttering toast for his breakfast and swiping crumbs on to the floor as a way to clean up. 2) I think, “if this were the first time I were seeing this, I would be less annoyed.” and 3) I ask myself, "what it would be like to have kids not swipe crumbs onto the floor as a means of cleaning up?"
Okay, that didn’t work either.
I’ll try one more: 1) I watch my child say goodbye to me in the morning. 2) I think, “there goes my little; I am so proud of how he is embracing his new school.” 3) I wonder what would it be like to never see my child again.
Nope. Why would I go there?
The idea of going through my day and making a conscious note of what I am seeing (as if for the first time) and then letting it go out of my consciousness (or field of view) with an awareness that I may never lay my eyes upon it again seems like an exercise in futility at best and fear-induction at worst.
As I write this, I realize that the problem is that I have it be a thinking exercise. Everything transpires in the head, and I am busy evaluation the situation. No wonder it is exhausting.
Perhaps, present moment awareness works better when it does not reside in the mind. I can be present with the red trash can across the room, the mug of tea on the table next to me and the rays of sunshine filtering in the sliding glass doors without needing to evaluate what it is like to be here with them.
Yes, that feels better. My mind quiets, and I can sense my own presence as part of the space. My awareness sinks into a deeper part of myself - a part of myself, that is wiser and more patient than my mind.
I have quieted enough to be able to hear a few birds chirping outside in the cold sunshine. I can hear a clock ticking in the kitchen. I can hear the quiet hum of an appliance. In this still place, there is no other moment to be fighting my way out of or turning my mind away from.
It is simply the moment in which I exist. Alongside a cup of tea and a red trash can. And I am grateful.
What is present with you in this moment? How does your awareness shift as you slow down and take notice?
Jessica Curtis is a professional coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.