December 22, 2011

The Year of Being Present

Since 2009 I have set an intention for each year. First it was The Year of Amy, then in 2010 it was The Year of Living My Dreams and this year has been The Year of Balance. For 2012 my intention is The Year of Being Present.

Being Present means using my senses. My default is to think about the past and future, building fantasies. This is essential to who I am because I am a creator, imaginer, facilitator, and teacher. However, my intention for 2012 is to stay grounded in the present by using my senses and experiencing what is happening in the moment. At the same time, I will tap into my strong intuition to Be Present in how each sense contributes to my Being. My habit has been to be lost in ideas, not sensing how I am being impacted in the present, ultimately missing the moment.

Examples of using my senses include:

  • Seeing others and knowing that I am being seen. It has taken me 42.10 years to realize that I think that people do not see me and that I am cautious about making eye contact. 
  • Hearing and knowing that I am being heard. Speaking deliberately, clearly, thoughtfully, and allowing time and space for others to do the same - students, friends, family, and even strangers. 
  • Touching and allowing myself to be touched. For example, when a friend reaches out to tap my forearm to make a point or get my attention. I've started leaning into these touches instead of instinctively pulling away.
  • Tasting and savoring what I eat. This is an inspiration from my sister's blog post: Eating in Sacredness. Slow down, enjoy and honor what I taste and smell. 
  • Feeling and recognizing emotions. Sometimes my emotions can be overwhelming or confusing; Being Present with what I am experiencing and honoring those emotions is my intent. The same is true with others' emotions. I do not have to fix them or take them on, just allow the other person to know that I see them, hear them, respect them, and perhaps I can even reach out and touch them. 
  • Slowing down. I think fast, move fast, act fast, and respond quickly. I wear these actions like a Badge of Honor for Cleverness. This is the perfect ingredient for being wrapped up in me with no room for seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, or feeling what is happening now. As another of my inspired yoga instructors, Vickie Russell Bell, says "Notice, what is happening now?"
My sister's blog post, Eating in Sacredness, has a wonderful statement about my niece Being Present. "Chetana makes the sign for "butterfly" when she sees a beautiful painting for the first time or when she points excitedly in the store at a book on the shelf and says "boon boon" having recognized a-just-like-home copy of "Goodnight Moon," or stands up in her bed first thing in the morning making kissing sounds to let us know she's awake...well, life is full of beautiful details."

How am I going to practice Being Present? In my Advanced Yoga Studies program we learned a 12 breaths exercise to prepare for Pranayama. It sounds deceptively simple, you pause, take 12 natural breaths in and out, and just observe without altering your breathing. This is harder than you can imagine and the result is that the observation of these 12 breaths grounds you in the moment.