MINDFUL MONDAY: Practice Makes Presence
Last week I posted a blog entitled "Practice Makes Progress". I wanted to explain how outdated and dysfunctional the old phrase, "Practice Makes Perfect" has become. This week I'd like to take this theme a step farther (and more deeply internal) using the title, "Practice Makes Presence," because that's exactly what it does.
When I think of being mindful in my daily activities, it means that I'm practicing to pay attention to what I'm doing and what I hope to accomplish from my actions. In so doing I'm bringing a higher level of awareness to what's happening right now.
When someone else is speaking, am I truly listening to them… or am I constantly thinking of how I could offer my own version of their story? When I'm running am I thinking of what I'm going to make for dinner, or am I practicing to sense my tension, my inefficiencies or my ease, so that I can adjust accordingly and improve. When I'm driving in my car am I criticizing how everyone else is driving, or am I staying relaxed and focused behind the wheel?
In the simplest of ways, working with the Chi Running and Chi Walking focuses trains me to pay attention to what's happening right here and now… in the eternal present. The presence that I build through Body Sensing allows me to hold a bigger picture in the back of my mind. This, in turn, helps me respond to each moment in a more accurate and appropriate way, because my mind is not perpetually being caught off balance.
I have to really work at this aspect of my practice because, as I get older, I'm noticing that I'm more easily distracted and even feel at times that I am experiencing nuances of what ADD is like. I'm noticing lapses in memory that come with age, but I've found that my ability to remember is directly proportional to my level of presence at the time the memory needs to be instated. I'm learning that good memory comes from deep, focused listening in the moment and not having your mind busy with the normal myriad of other things. For me, it means carefully listening to others, to my body, to the environment if I hope to remember that moment for future use.
In my running practice, the more present I am at the time I make any adjustment in my running or walking form, the more likely I am to remember what works, what doesn't work and what will move me forward in my learning curve.
What is my body sense of presence? It's like how I feel when I drive up my driveway and turn off the car. I take a moment to just sit there in the quiet… sensing deep gratitude for being home again.