Saturday, August 29, 2015

Being Present

Recently, I've added a new routine in my mornings: several minutes of movement/mobility work. The idea of it (for me) started after Max Shank presented his #5minuteflow (which is FANTASTIC, by the way!). I tried it during a few weeks of work trips, but it never really caught on into my daily life (I am neither naturally a morning person, and I typically have work in the mornings....both which are excuses, not reasons). Since May of this year, I've gotten an opportunity to dabble (and I use that term lightly, as this is my first real experience) a bit in Iyengar Yoga. Jory Serota put me in a few poses, gave me some directions for those normally considered basic poses, and subsequently made me sweat a lot. I strongly disliked the process during those sessions. I knew I had lost some flexibility in the last several years, but not that much, and not in those ways. But the more I practiced what he taught, the less I disliked the process, and the more I learned what my body lacked. I think the most important part of my experience with his teachings was the reminder (and a wider view) of how to..


What does "being present" mean?

It means paying attention to the details. Know what's around you, what's going on, what you're wanting to accomplish right then and there. What sounds can you hear? What does the air feel like? What does the air smell like? What are the activities occurring around you? What are the visual details? Can you see the bird on the rooftop of the adjacent building? What is it doing? Can you hear the silence of your empty house/apartment? Can you hear the neighbors retrieving their mail? Can you smell what's being made for breakfast?

"Being present" means being aware of what is happening in your body, your mind, your breath, your heart. How are you breathing? Are you chest breathing? 360 breathing? Fast? Slow? Shallow? Deep? Holding your breath? How are you feeling at this point? Happy? Bored? Dislike? Tired? A.D.D.? Intrigued? Are you sitting/standing up straight? What does it mean to stand up straight? What is your neck doing while you read this? How are your hips positioned? How are your feet positioned? How are your shoulders and your chest positioned? Is your jaw gripping? Are you still breathing?

This is only a small part of being present. There is much, much more to it. The more you practice being present in your daily life, the more you realize there is to it.

I've always been present in my workouts, ever since my early Taekwondo days. Thankfully, I had a good Master who engrained in my brain that the details matter quite a bit. Nowadays, TKD (as well as many other martial arts, sports, and well, everything) has become more of a generalized movement, and, in short, sloppily practiced and performed. What is supposed to be an exact distance and angle of the feet, knees, hips has now become "eh, it's roughly about that position." The flow of energy of a single punch going from relaxed to torqued and then terse and sharp has now become "getting from point A to point B." The beauty in a kick with perfect alignment, poise, and energy has now become a generalize "AyYah!" with a randomly contacted foot to a target. It's disappointing, really, if you've ever experienced the actual art and see what's being taught in many places.

My understanding of being present has now grown exponentially, since my early TKD days. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I am thankful to have had instructors who teach the details, and at least bits and pieces of being present in practice. It's nice to have those outside sources of reminders.

Now, in my workouts, daily movements and postures, I am even more present than I used to be. There is so much more to pay attention to, so much more than can be applied to make my body and mind strong and complete. This week, I'm taking several of Jory's classes. Of course, there will be a write up in the future :)

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