Welcome to Day 22 of my blog series based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.”
I will try to keep these posts to about 500 words.
Here is the quote:
May 12 — Am I here? How often are we really where we are? Don’t we eat lunch and discuss dinner? Or plan Thanksgiving and worry about Christmas? Make a pledge today to focus on what you are doing or thinking with your whole being. Each time you forget, come back to right now.
I might be one of the first people to suggest that Living In the Moment is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Sometimes (and I don’t say this to suggest that we deny the present moment or experience) escaping mentally is a good thing. It’s a necessary thing. It’s what our psyches do when it’s all too much.
For example, a child is distressed. His favorite toy has been stolen. He can’t deal.
If we were to take Lasater’s advice here, we would focus on the loss with our whole being. We would have to encourage that child to deeply feel the loss.
Or take a car wreck survivor. There’s total denial of the accident and its repercussions (BAD IDEA) or there’s the suggestion that one focus on the event with the entire being.
I know that these states — the events in question: toy theft and a car wreck are ephemeral, instantaneous. I also know that experiencing them fully helps us process them, which can usher healing, but I also know that fully thrusting ourselves into the event can sorta screw up things. The brain has a system for dealing with that. It can be dissociative (I AM NOT HERE) or it can be schizoid (THIS ISN’T HAPPENING TO ME RIGHT NOW) or one could even have a narcoleptic response (THIS SUCKS, SO I’M GOING TO FALL ASLEEP NOW IN ORDER TO SURVIVE IT).
I’m on board with the brain taking over on these situations in order to survive them. I’m not saying it’s OK, I’m just saying that going into mental shock over an event is likely what keeps some people alive. It’s the dealing with the aftermath that can be very challenging.
But let’s get back to Lasater. Be at Thanksgiving when it’s Thanksgiving. My mother was legendary for not doing this at all. At Thanksgiving, she’d start thinking about previous Thanksgivings. Not Christmas. Never the future. That was … NNNNNOOOOO. Never the future. It was like she only had a replay button, not a fast-forward. That was hard. I don’t know what it was which made it all so difficult for her.
When you’re in traffic, don’t look at your phone; look at the traffic light. Sing along with the song that’s playing or listen to it if you don’t know the words. Be in that moment.
I think Lasater is encouraging mindfulness in a exacting way here. Often we eat mindlessly. It’s our emotions, souls which are “hungry” not our stomachs.
On the yoga retreat we performed a mindful eating exercise with fruit.
I selected a clementine. We were to sit in a comfortable position in the sun and think about and bless all the hands it required to get that piece of fruit to our hands. We were instructed to look at the fruit, and then smell and feel it with our eyes closed. If your fruit was to be peeled, then you peeled it slowly. I was encouraged to hear the rind tear and observe the clementine oils spurt from the tiny pores on the rind upon the pressure of peeling it and to really smell that profusion of scent. Then I could section it. I plunged my thumb into the opening at the core of the clementine with care. Then I could eat it.
I almost didn’t want to eat that clementine; it was already so satisfying.
But I did. It was the best clementine ever.
So be here, now, when it’s good for you.