Tag Archives: be here now

Pause for the present moment

Pause: v. to stop temporarily, to linger for a time

Present: adj. now existing or in progress, being in view or at hand

I take two yoga classes a week, which I love for many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity to slow down and pay attention to the present moment. We practice being present by focussing on the breath and on the sensations in the body as it’s twisted into pretzel-like postures (future P-post?).

All well and good. My problem is bringing that focus into the rest of my life, starting with the ten-minute drive to yoga class.

Somehow I’m always running behind. I try to pack 14 last minute tasks into a time slot that can maybe hold three. So on the drive to class I’m trying to figure out how to pass the slow-poke car ahead of me, how to time the next stoplight, whether to take an alternate and possibly faster route.

You get the idea. I’m not present.

This race to yoga is not a winning strategy. This morning, for example, the sun was just poking out behind a blue-gray storm cloud and lighting up a patchwork of brilliant yellow and red leaves on the trees that line Burnt Bridge Creek. If I’d had an extra two minutes, I would have pulled off the road and just soaked in the beauty of the light, the clouds, the fall foliage.

Well, I consoled myself, maybe the scene will still be that lovely when I pass it on my way home. But of course two hours later the rain was falling heavily and the view was obliterated.

That particular moment is gone forever. I could spend THIS present moment beating myself up for my bad habit of running so late that any pause is impossible.  Instead I decided to find a little beauty in my own yard when the rain broke (briefly) a few minutes ago.

Here’s one colorful corner – a formerly purple cotinus (unbeatable for fall color!) in front of my formerly green grapevine ( you have to click on it because the expanded image is much better):


Patience and the present moment

Patience: n. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without gettingangry or upset 

Present: adj. existing or occurring NOW.

When I started 365 P Words back in April, 225 posts ago, it was my intention to focus on words that represented problematic issues for me – like productivity, practice, perfection, procrastination, perseverance, and PATIENCE.  

It quickly became apparent that other P words would intrude on these ruminations – some inconsequential: poodles, post-its and purple poop – and others of consuming passion: politics, prevarication and Palin. 

This week, I’m parent-sitting my 94-year-old Mom at my sister’s home in Nashville while she and her husband take a much-needed vacation, and PATIENCE is the word of the week.

Mom is trying to maintain her grip on reality, but her brain seems only able to grasp what is directly in front of her. This means that when I leave the room she’s in, I disappear, just like an infant thinks the toy you hide under the covers is gone. 

My sister’s house is not big, but it’s laid out in a meandering pattern, so it’s easy for Mom to lose track of her companion.  If I’m in the kitchen and she’s in the living room, she suddenly notices nobody’s there and she starts a quest for the missing person, poking her head in each room, calling, “Hello?? Anybody here??”

This morning while I was dressing in my bedroom, she came in three times, to call, “anybody home?” I tell her I’m dressing and she wanders off, momentarily satisfied, then in a minute she has to check in again. 

I know she doesn’t mean to drive me nuts, so I breathe deeply and try to avoid rolling my eyes. It wouldn’t be so bad to just hang out with her, but she wants to be good company, so she keeps asking me about my life – her attempt to be a good conversationalist.  In the moment, she is a good conversationalist; but my patience is tried when it’s the same conversation we just had.

I’ve been living alone for six years and have come to savor the chatter of my own tiny mind and I don’t like being interrupted. After decades of living with kids and a super-talkative spouse, I need the external silence. I can’t think or write without it. 

My sister and brother-in-law are singer-songwriters (in Nashville, what else?) – how DO they DO it with Mom always nattering away?  I’m in awe of them.

At the rate I’m going I’m not going to be a Buddhist monk any time soon. Patience? What’s that? I can be infinitely patient in traffic or in a slow checkout line, but in the present moment with my own mother? Not now.