This semester, I decided to actively reduce my stress by taking two classes to help me learn meditative strategies and overall reduce my high strung tendencies. One is meditation as an environmental study and the other is yoga for wellness. Both of them emphasize the importance of being present, of being in the moment.
Now, this is something I struggle with immensely. I often (at least recently) get very little done because I’m so concerned with all of the work I have to do. I am not present with the work I am working on, but rather my thoughts race on to everything.
But I tried this. I didn’t let myself think about anything but what I was working on. I messed up a few times, I started thinking about what I would do once I was finished, but I actively policed myself and focuses on what I was doing. And though I may not have gotten as much done as I would have like to do, I was more productive than I have been in quite some time.
The reason meditation works is that it makes the mind focus on something simple, like breathing. Last meditation class I learned that it’s literally impossible to not think, to have a completely empty mind. So instead, by focusing on breathing, you are present with the body and all other thoughts are blocked out.
This was incredibly refreshing and has changed the way I meditate. I no longer berate myself for letting my thoughts wander, I simply redirect them.
And I’m not perfect. I’m just getting started. But I already feel like I am getting more out of my life. In being present, life doesn’t pass us by. We notice the small things, that little nook in the coffee shop, or maybe that we’re feeling pretty great today. I believe that in being present, in giving meaning to what you are doing right here, right now, feelings of discontent and dissatisfaction will fade away. We won’t be thinking about all of that work we have ahead of us. We won’t be concerned with all of the things we don’t have. But rather, we might find that where we are right now is a pretty good place to be.
And if that doesn’t sound like happiness, we might need to reconsider what happiness truly means.