Being Present

Zen-circleIt’s early, cool, and overcast.  I awoke considerably earlier this morning than I have in some time.  Until just a few weeks (or has it been months?) ago, it was common for me to be awake and out of bed by 5:00 a.m.  I don’t know what’s changed to alter that old habit.

The early rising was not the only departure from my recent routine.  Instead of busying myself with reading online news, I decided to sit quietly and consciously and just think.

It seems I make a habit of letting life slide by without fully participating in the process.  It’s rare that I require myself to consciously appreciate and enjoy those mundane, but precious, moments that make up so much of my day.

This morning, I paid attention to what was going on around me. I paid attention to the flavor of my coffee and the heat in my mouth as I sipped it.  The leather of the couch was cool against the back of my thighs as I took my seat in my usual place.  As I gazed around the dimly lit room, I let my eyes focus on each object before them, paying attention to shape and color.

This process of consciously paying attention took some time; I spent twenty minutes or more just sensing what was going on around me.

Those few minutes led me to think about other little joys I experience without fully recognizing or acknowledging them, things like hearing the sounds…a door opening, the shuffling of slippers on carpet…that tell me my wife is awake and out of bed.  When I consciously think about such things, when I really devote my attention to them, I am reminded of how important they are.

Much has been written, especially in connection with Zen Buddhism, about “being present.”  Being present does not require expensive yoga pants, nor attendance at expensive mindfulness retreats.  It just requires a little time and a little intent.  Actually, it requires more time than I’ve given it lately. Today’s little experience reminded me of that and of the value of giving it time.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Being Present

  1. druxha says:

    Strange, John. I awake almost always at around 4:30 AM (need to rouse my boy an hour later), and yet, at what most would consider an ungodly hourly, is when I’ve done what you speak of…perhaps subconsciously so. That is the hour of quite…no birds sing yet, no cars passing on the street, just quite. I DO taste my coffee in its richness, and inhale its aroma, versus other hours of the day. I do hear the squeeze in my chair as I turn from here to there. I do knowledge and feel my thoughts, and I dunno, John, maybe I’ve been doing an early morning Zen without realizing it? Either way, I appreciate your reflections that put me to think in this!

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