How many times have you realized that your physical body was present during an event, but your mind was not? Were you thinking of where to go next or what happened earlier in the day? Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and not heard a thing he/she said?
Don’t beat yourself up for it; it happens. We are humans, and our minds tend to take over a lot. Even when we think we’re truly present, we find that our minds take us to places far away from the physical moment. No one is asking you to be perfect. Yet, becoming more present in the moment is a skill you can build. It can happen through yoga practice and meditation.
During an intense yoga practice, you often don’t have the time to think about what’s next or what happened earlier in the day. The movement and the breath during yoga practice tends to be your main focus. But what happens when you slow down your movement and come into poses like pigeon or savasana? Does your mind creep back in? If it does, this is perfectly normal. What is most important is that you notice your mind wandering. When your body slows down, your mind is no longer focused on moving through the poses, so it takes the opportunity to come to the forefront of your consciousness. So, when you’re in restorative yoga poses, recognize that your mind has drifted and gently bring it back with attention to breath. If this happens fifty times, do this fifty times. Because you must bring your mind back to the present moment several times, does not mean that there’s something wrong, it just means you’re human. But you can train your brain to listen to you, rather than you listening to your brain.
When the same thing happens in a conversation with someone or during an event off your yoga mat, do the same thing. Notice that your mind has wandered and bring it back to the present moment. No one needs to know you’re doing this, but you may realize that you become more present one little step at a time.
Daily meditation practice is also helpful in bringing presence in your daily life. One of the most important elements of meditation is noticing. Some meditations call for you to focus on breath or on a sensation. This can be your practice for bringing your mind back to the present moment. During a focused meditation, your mind may also wander several times. If this is the case, bring it back. Place no judgment on what happens during these moments. In time, you will realize that the brain is hardwired to think, and that we can always redirect our focus with intention.