BY: TRISHA CURLING

The fluffy answer that we would all like to say with authenticity is: “I’m thinking about nothing but the present moment. I am totally still and one with myself. I am focused on my breath and I feel as though I am in complete bliss”

Now, it doesn’t mean that we never feel this way on our mats. We definitely over time achieve either fleeting moments like this during our practice, or maybe even during the entire practice no matter how long or short it may be. When we grow and mature in our own yoga journey, we gain the ability to tap into this with more ease and intention.Maturing in our practice does not necessarily mean doing more advanced poses or having the ability to do this all of the time.It simply means that we have spent a consistent amount of time accumulating different experiences on and of off the mat that help to contribute to deeper focus and ability to create more potential to tap into the present more often.

Our challenges can be our best teachers in exercising the mind to come back to the present. It’s easy to focus on the challenges we face, and this can distract us from a clear perspective.If we step back and examine our thought patterns we can understand more deeply about where our minds go.

Is this not a wonderful reason to come to our mats though?It’s a wonderful opportunity to step away from our surroundings to get closer to our body, mind, and spirit. That being said, this does not mean that we only come to our mats to “get away from challenges” we also come to our mats, to celebrate, have fun, to nourish, to rejoice in the happy parts of our lives. Staying present with the wonderful things in our lives helps to bring more of those experiences in.

Letting go of the pressure to have “perfect thought” while practicing is key to the enjoyment of our experience.

Not being able to focus sometimes or truly be in the moment is a reality. We may have very clear intentions of doing this and it just may not turn out that way. Allowing this to happen and not resist it with punishment to ourselves is part of the process of learning to be able to be more present more often. This may happen in waves during a singular practice or we may have many months with the ability to do so and then many months where we are not so successful in this pursuit.

Yes, I believe we should maintain goals of staying present on and off of the mat, but we should also be aware that it may not always be like this and that is ok.

One of the tips that may be helpful in staying more present is using the body as a vehicle to the mind.If we start with our breath, we can first make a deeper internal connection.As we layer on the movements in our asana practice and notice how the body feels during both transitions and poses, we build the relationship with the body and knowing what feels right for us. This is an excellent gateway to the mind and staying more present.

Story first appeared at torontocaribbean.com

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