The Rewards of Staying Present
This is an experience of mine, see if this rings true for you. I am out walking, let’s say on my way somewhere as opposed to just being out for a walk. I am in the world, but also in my own world, living in a world of thoughts that people around me are completely unaware of. That inner world can be harmless, but it can also be your worse enemy. If there is no hurry for me to get to my destination, I am fine. I can take my time. Obstacles on the way will go by pretty much unnoticed. I’ll arrive at my destination fresh and ready to get on with whatever I am there for.
But what if I leave late, or a never ending list of obstacles seem to get in the way? I am getting later. I am in the world, but inside my head the impatience meter is moving up and with that my sense of ease and happiness is rapidly diminishing. When I do arrive at my destination I am frazzled and probably in less than the best situation for dealing with the task at hand. Can you relate to this? If so, what to do?
First let’s reflect on where the annoyance and impatience gets you - frustrated, short tempered, agitated, less than happy, and in not the best frame of mind for accomplishing tasks. However as a challenge to this state of mind, there is a quote by a 9th century Buddhist saint which says,
If you can do something about, why get upset? If you can’t do anything about it, why get upset?
This short verse is saying getting upset over the matter will not help you. If you can do something about being late, great, do it but don’t get hot under the collar. If you can’t do anything about it, getting annoyed will not solve the problem and so better just to accept the situation.
As an aid to staying more present when you are on your way somewhere, watch you mind. In your mind, where aer youave you already arrived at your destination? Are you off solving a problem for tomorrow? Catch yourself and come back to your footsteps as they tread the path to your destination. Be aware of your feet as they take the steps. There is no need to slow down or speed up, just be aware of what you are doing, walking. Be present. Be with where you are now. And as you do so you should notice your concerns and frustrations drop away. Two minutes later (if not sooner) those agitations will more than likely raise their ugly head again, but just go back to your walking. The more familiar that you get with this practice, the more it will come to mind as you set off walking, and the fresher you will be when you arrive at your destination. Fresh and ready to get on with the task at hand.