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January 2014

Are You Present?

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PYC ClarksonI’ve lived most of my life from my head – over-thinking, over-analyzing and worrying about every little thing. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga that I even began to wrap my worried mind around the idea of presence.

My first few practices were confusing.

The teacher would ask me to ‘be present’ and I would think to myself: Well, yah, obviously. I’m here. I’m in the room. Where do you think I am, teacher? Now tell me what pose do to next.
I would hear the words ‘land in your body’ and I’d think: Land in my body? What does that even mean. I live in my body. How can I land in it?

It didn’t take me long to realize that all that inner dialogue was exactly what the teacher was encouraging me to step out of. I was NOT present. One moment I was overanalyzing what the teacher said, the next I was fretting about the essay I had to write, then before I knew it, I was getting mad at my sisters all over again replaying some fight from last year.

I wasn’t landing in my body because I was having a conversation in my head. 

That was years ago, and to this day, every time I hit my mat, I struggle between landing in the moment and wandering off in my head. That’s what the practice is for me, an opportunity to bring my body and my mind into the same place, at the same time.

We are on Day 3 of 40 Days to Personal Revolution at Power Yoga Canada and the theme of the week is Presence – bet you saw that one coming. If you are participating, awesome! If you aren’t, you can still join us in noticing when you are present in your life and more importantly, when you are not!

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a conversation with someone only to realize that you have no idea what they just said?
Have you ever been in front of your computer at work or at school and you get nothing done because your mind is fixated on that fight you got in with your boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/parents last night?
Have you ever pulled into the driveway after a long day and realized that you have no idea how you got there? Scary, right?

These things happen because you weren’t present. You were in your head, thinking about something that wasn’t actually happening in the moment. Take it from me, it’s a tough way to live! I suffered through a lot of my life because of the time I spent in my head dwelling on things that had already happened and worrying about things that might in the future. And this is still my work. It’s a practice that will never end for me, but one that has had an amazing impact on my relationships, life and overall happiness.

When you bring your attention to presence this week, you might notice that you aren’t really there for more moments than you thought. Maybe you’re realizing – like I did – that you’ve spent your whole life in your head.

Don’t get discouraged. It’s a powerful place to be. With the awareness that you’re not present, you see an opportunity that you didn’t even know was available to you before:

You can come back to the moment.

Jenn Dwyer

If you have any helpful tips for practicing presence in your life, share them with the community in the comments below! 

See more of my writing here.