As a child familiar with seemingly ever lasting car journeys I was often exclaimed at to ‘wake up and look at the view’.  I couldn’t care less, it was like the view wasn’t real, like it was a picture of a view and I could see a picture of a view any time. When we arrived to our destination, usually southern Spain, I didn’t believe I was really anywhere different. I hadn’t processed the journey, I wasn’t really there, the whole time I had been in my mind. I would be thinking about my narrative, my story, what my friends and all the other characters would be doing without me. What it would be like when I returned. When I engaged with my present experience it was only through inner narration of what I would tell people about so and so, this and that when I returned. I was totally Self absorbed, lost in my own mind, convinced that was the control centre for the whole world unfolding in front of my eyes, convinced that what was behind my eyes was real, what was in front was just for me. A trained mind can be positively powerful, an untrained mind can be very vulnerable.

When I would face something I didn’t want to face and suffered anxiety for a disproportionate time in advance of whatever event, I came up with a clever mechanism.. I would try and turn my mind off, decide I was going to coast through said event and wake myself when it was all over, only thinking forward to that moment when it would all be in the past. Retrospectively I realise this did little to salve my anxiety and rather left me numb through various significant times in my life. I missed opportunities to engage with challenges, to learn and come out stronger. I gave up valuable moments of living.

As I got older I found myself miserable at work. I had such high hopes and expectations growing up and the reality of how boring life could be for such a large proportion of the week shocked me. I switched off. Off for the week days, up as late as possible to bathe in my own time, alert and fully engaged for Saturday and then drenched in dread on Sunday when the week ahead loomed. With little daylight during the week I began to train myself to be totally present as I waited for my train in the morning. I fed my eyes with greenery looking up at Crouch Hill’s treetops. I basked in Vitamin D. The more aware and appreciative  I became of every little moment of pleasure and joy, the more I truly engaged and was present in these moments, the more bearable the rest of the week could be. I stopped coasting and really evaluated what was going on. It didn’t mean I loved my job and eventually I left. In complete consciousness. I changed direction to find something I could enjoy in the moment.

I notice how disproportionately time moved. A moment is a moment yet some would occupy my mind for months, others would be over and never even noticed. There is a negative bias and we need to actively work to even this out. What if we valued each moment equally. No moment is more than any other.

I feel anxious sometimes, but much less fequently. I don’t bury it, I can better watch it now. I am older and I know the whole world isn’t there just for me, just for my eyes. When I see something beautiful now I really sense it. I use my senses a lot more. When I see vast mountain ranges in southern Spain I don’t feel like I am looking at a picture. I feel a part of the mountains, I feel like I have come home to myself.

Someone I met in Dubai who I respect grately said when she got into Yoga she woke up to a life within her life.

If we are not present, there is nothing. If we are present there is everything.

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