‘Live in the present’ was probably the most confounding sentence said to me when I was younger. I could never really understand how anyone could not live in the present. And even more mystifying was the look of utter tranquility and profound sagacity with which these words were always delivered. It was as if the person uttering them knew something that I was unable to fathom. Anyway, at that point, I probably didn’t have the time. Life then was not about pausing, it was about galloping full throttle with a keen eye on whoever was ahead. The so-called ‘off’ days, or the days designated as holidays from work or college were even more hectic, and there was always a mad rush to keep up with the social life, the latest movies, trending music, and the world in general. So, where was the time to pause to comprehend the meaning of abstract terms like ‘living in the present’? Actually, this was exactly the problem that I never had the time to actually live in the present and be suspended in the moment. If physically I was in the ‘here and now’, mentally I was always either in the future or the past.
Cut to now, when in my middle age, all I want to do is just experience the present and wilfully apply ‘commas’ to my experiences. From wanting to wake up to bird songs in the wee hours of the morning and being lulled to sleep by the hypnotic ticking of the clock in the silence of the night, I want to feel the rays of the winter sun falling on my face and hold my cup of tea till its warmth seeps into my hands. I just want to do all the inane, seemingly meaningless things with no real purpose than to just ‘be’ in the moment. I have realised how even the most mundane of chores becomes an experience when one stays with them.
Cooking, baking, and other household chores don’t just have to be completed now. I now look at mealtimes as times that reflect care and love of the home too, and the endeavour is towards making each member feel special. Every once in a while, I let the flavours in the kitchen invade my senses, revelling in the wholesomeness of food in our lives, enriching the moment by filling it with thoughts of my family enjoying every meal as I linger over the preparation, adding little bits of everyone’s favourite nutrients.
More and more, I’m learning to enjoy being with people, immersing myself in the conversations, and being present to them. I try not to let thoughts of pending tasks rob me of the pleasure of a soulful tete-a-tete. In all spheres of life, I’ve become more mindful – even to my responsibility towards society and the environment. I’m more consciously involved in the causes that I believe in and do what I can ‘here and now’ and not just plan and leave things for the future.
My mindfulness has spilled over to my fitness too. I still get my high from my cardio, but now, instead of just finishing an exercise routine, I observe the process. This has not only made my training regime richer, but it has got me more in tune with my body and my injuries have definitely become lesser. It’s almost as if I’ve started ‘hearing’ my body.
I shape the future through the present now, instead of the other way round. In my younger days, the future dictated my present and I worked towards my goals without taking the time to enjoy the journey. The ‘years under the sun’ have brought wisdom that one can enjoy a feeling of stillness even amidst all the whirring of life by learning to pause and breathe deep in the present. I’ve learned to wilfully take a breath and a break to enjoy that cup of tea after ‘life’ has been tackled! It’s allowed me to live in the present and get to know my moments before they become the past. Pauses and silences fill my day as I experience the ‘now-ness’ in full, allowing each moment to tell me it’s the story before passing by.
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