“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Henry David Thoreau
A faithful reader here on Power In Pause commented on how simply getting caught up in his day to day life was one way he could lose track of the meaning of what life was actually presenting. I know we all can relate to this…Life happens and all of a sudden, we finally stop and say,
“How did I get HERE?!?!”
(Notice we have to “stop” before we can notice!)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “come back to the surface” and started attending to what’s going on around me, usually realizing I had missed out on a lot! This brought me to the question:
What concrete action can I take to help myself practice a more “Here, Now” mindset?
The Thoreau quote above has always been a favorite of mine because it gets right to the crux of our issue with Presence:
Whatever we attend to…is what we are choosing for our Reality in that moment: ultimately, whatever we notice IS our choice about what we are experiencing.
We are SEEING whatever we are looking for, “good”, “bad” or “neutral”.
We exclude other things that may be present and select what we want to see…
And usually take our next step based on that choice.
And this is why the Power that is in Pausing is so crucial:
Whenever we actually “come to the surface”, noting what we are experiencing (whether physically, mentally or emotionally)…this is our moment of Pause.
We are enabled to take in more: our blinders are off for a moment.
So our Pause is the perfect place to check back in and reassess how we’re choosing to live our lives.
But…just how can we get there more frequently?
One of my most successful actions regarding practicing mindfulness is to set an intention for the day…and I do this BEFORE I get out of bed in the morning, as it is freshest in my mind and more likely to have the strongest impact…plus it is usually the only part of my day that I can count on where I am not needed for something else! However, if morning isn’t suitable, you would choose another short space of quiet time that works for you…but you must be free to concentrate uninterrupted…
And of course, committing to be consistent is key as well.
So, shortly after I wake, I mentally scan my schedule for that day, imagining what circumstances (visual, aural, tactile…even tastes/smells) I would most likely encounter frequently. These experiences I call Common Catalysts (CC’s). Then I use one or more of these CC’s as the trigger to Pause for one deep breath. And with that single breath, I am immediately pulled back into my body and more deeply aware what I am actually doing and what is happening around me.
If I am running lots of errands, a CC could be each time I open the car door (Pause)…or walking through a door into a store (Breathe)…standing in line (Pause)…pulling money out of my wallet (Breathe)
If I am drawing, it would be the act of picking up my sketch pen (Pause/Breathe)…or putting it down. (Pause/Breathe)
If I plan to read a book, the turning of each page. (Pause/Breathe)
If I’m playing a round of golf, it could be the feel of each new grip of the next club I choose…or maybe the act of approaching each new tee box. (Pause/Breathe)
Perhaps it’s each time I wash my hands…(Breathe).
Oh and here’s one CC that will ALWAYS bring me back often:
Every time I pick up my phone!
(Ever notice how frighteningly integrated your phone is in your daily life?!)
For a challenge: try to go ten minutes without even THINKING of interacting with your phone and notice how often you are just thinking of it, not to mention actually using it.
Mind blowing to the max.
So your Common Catalyst can be anything concrete that you know will be coming up frequently in that particular day. You are essentially setting up subsequent Pauses by taking one Pause in the morning to set your intention to “watch out” for your CC’s.
By visualizing myself going through these CC events BEFORE they take place, their appearance “wakes me up” to the moment because I am, in a sense, returning once again to the Present to notice them.
Jotting your CC’s down in your phone or on paper can also be extra reinforcement, using your visual and tactile senses…and then plan to check in later in your day to return to that list to see what CC’s you’ve utilized, as well as being reminded of ones you may have left out.
You can see how this type of practice might snowball into a well-established habit:
If I am attending to such “small” things as opening car doors, turning pages or picking up my phone…
How much easier will it be to notice the larger events that show up during my day?
The whole point is to improve the frequency of my return to the Present.
It’s not about being Perfect
It’s about PRACTICING. Practicing Presence…
That idea of “the journey, not the destination” that we so often hear of.
And EVERYONE is capable of practicing…
No Perfection necessary!
Thoreau hit it spot on:
The choice of focus ALWAYS dictates your OWN experience.
And if we awaken just enough to realize we want a different experience…
Then that is the time to Pause and change what we’re looking at…
So we can truly “see”.