Living Wholly in the Present Takes Some Practice
by Martinique Davis
Jun 02, 2011 | 2241 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Perhaps the long-awaited shifting of the seasons has stirred in me some heightened perception of time’s passage, but I can’t seem to help but reflect on the speed at which my kids are growing up.

Emme turned 1 a few days ago, deciding at the same time to upgrade from her old hands-and-knees form of transport to wobbling around upright on two legs like the rest of us. It seems you wait so long for those things to come; like we wait longingly for the first buds to finally appear on the willow branches in the backyard; then suddenly you wake up and realize it’s done – summer’s here and the baby’s walking. The shift was imperceptible but momentous. And rather than welcoming it, as I should and thought I would, I find myself straining backwards against it, wishing my little crawler would enjoy a few more weeks chafing her knees on barely-green spring grass.

What’s up with that?

My favorite local yogini always suggests her students set an intention at the beginning of yoga class. She shares with us her intention, and most recently, it was “To live in the moment.”

In my attempting-to-be-yogically-ephemeral state, I opened my consciousness to the word or phrase that would magically materialize in my blissfully blank slate of a mind. I waited. Just when I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to set an intention, just like I couldn’t do Camel Pose, it came to me: My intention is… To live in the moment.

Arg! Come on, unencumbered yoga brain! Be creative! That’s just regurgitating the yoga instructor’s intention. (I realize self-criticism is very un-yoga-like. Alas, I could probably do a lifetime’s-worth of asanas and still hear that little critic’s voice echoing around in my mind, while I criticize myself for listening to it.)

But that phrase, to live in the moment, held on. I couldn’t shake it, so I finally settled for copying someone else’s hard-fought intention for that day’s yoga practice. And that phrase lingered on, even after that heady post-yoga high had faded and I was back to changing diapers and hollering at kids, dogs, and a husband. I began to wonder: Could living more in the moment decelerate the ever-hastening velocity of my children’s lives?

Although I spend thousands of moments a day with my kids, in how many of those moments am I actually, wholly present? So much of my time is spent staring at screens instead of looking into faces. My cell phone, computer, and television continually imprison my attention, artificially injecting me into a life that is glossy and sensational but, upon closest examination, only an organized collection of pixels. By living more in the present tense, instead of in half-conscious cyber-states, could I stretch out these moments with my kids? And in so doing, quiet this murmuring mind-chatter, which keeps reminding me that soon my kids will be grown (and I’ll be old)?

I was searching for online for recipes the other evening, during that most exasperating post-work and school, pre-dinner and bedtime time-sucking vortex.

Just…trying…to figure out… something…for dinner!! I tapped madly at the keyboard, looking over my shoulder every-so-often just to make sure Emme hadn’t started eating dinner out of the dog’s dish and Elle hadn’t smeared glitter glue on the table or across her sister’s face. The kids, of course, are yanking at my last straws, requesting I color with them/pick them up/PAY ATTENTION to them, as I dive into the Internet’s beef stroganoff catacombs.

“I’m going to give baby a haircut,” Elle tells me.

Mothers of 3-year-olds become accustomed to hearing without really listening.

“Okay,” I mumble, as my memory inventories the refrigerator for sour cream.

So, I really did hear her tell me what she was doing, and I really did say okay, so there was little punishment I could lay down when my stroganoff-soused mind came snapping back to the present tense to watch Emme’s baby curls fluttering like feathers onto the floor.

Yes, those ski-jump back-of-the-head baby curls I wrote about last week, the ones I was going to try to appreciate now before they grew into little girl locks? All in a little pile on the dining room floor, put there by a proud three-year-old wielding a pink-handled pair of kid’s craft scissors.

At that moment, I realized I need to work much harder on living in the moment.
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