Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Be present

I was trying to call a friend of mine the other day when I got a busy tone from her line. A busy tone is not something you hear every day so I tried again; I just couldn't get through. I saw her later on and asked her about it. She said that her husband could not stand the idea of call waiting; he thought that was rude to just bump people off for the next best thing or phone call in this situation. I have thought statement a lot since the day I heard it.

The Denver Waldorf School is hosting a 5 class parent education series. I’ve attended 3 classes so far all which have been fantastic. Dr. Adam Blanning was the host of last night’s talk about how we keep ourselves and our children healthy in a world that wants us to consume without end. Think about media and how much of it we are exposed to. Many things come at us so fast that we barely have time to digest them all which leaves us over stimulated and tired. Probably the most interesting point that was discussed last night was that of our 12 senses (not 6 like I thought we had). These senses are word, sound, temperature, vision, smell, taste, touch, vestibular, proprioception, life, I and thought. I am not going to go into all of those senses but what I found fascinating was that sense of “I”; that of the human being or individual. Dr. Blanning talked about how important that sense was to have when engaging in an activity with your kids especially under the age of 9. For example, reading a book to a child has the sense of “I” for your child but listening to a story on tape does not. The sense of "I" can be thought of as human interaction.

I thought about how important that sense of “I” is for adults as well if not more important. That connection we make with another human being is tremendously essential for our well-being. Most of the activities we do are fast-paced and hurried because there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day; we pay at the pump, we eat while driving, make all our phone calls while running errands and so on. Didn’t it feel good when you had to pay inside for gas which allowed you that essential human contact with the attendant? I’m not saying that these conveniences aren’t great to have but they do come at a price.

I was doing a reading this morning for someone when we got interrupted by someone on her end. Her energy got scattered and my energy got scattered after that interruption. My boundaries are very clear when I’m giving someone a reading; I meditate prior to the reading, I disable call-waiting on my phone and I close my door. This practice guarantees that I am fully present for the person and myself.

If you are having coffee with a friend don’t answer your phone when it rings, if you’re working-out don’t try to read your book, if you’re talking to someone on the phone don't type an email at the same time, when you pick your kids up from school realize that it’s their turn to have your attention, dinner with your family is the time for everyone to sit around the table and share their day … and so on. I know you’re all nodding your head yes. Trust me if you allow yourself the gift of being present you will feel an overwhelming sense of well-being and balance.

I don’t know that I am ready to disable call-waiting on my phone permanently but I can tell you that I won’t be taking that other phone call quite as easily.

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In the present!


  1. Multi-tasking is the buzzword of the day. Although it's a great way to accomplish many things at once, it takes away the most important way to balance - Being in the moment!

    Loved the article - many thanks for posting this!! :-))

  2. Mary I really appreciate this for a few reasons.

    Firstly, being present is a fundamental principle in most spiritual practices for a very good reason. It is the foundation of excellence - ask any athlete and then read the research. Thanks for reminding us.

    Secondly, I am really glad to say that multi tasking now falls into the category of "was" a buzzword. For 15 years I was told that I needed to encourage my students to multi task as it was the skill of the future - thankfully academics are moving away from the idea as they are finding what most of us knew all along - if you focus on one thing you end up doing it a lot better.

    Lastly, I love the way that throw away comments often spark a heap of thought. I am reminded of a final reflection at the end of a two year course I used to teach. I spent 2 quality days a week and some residential time with these students and so I was really looking forward to answers to the question - "what is the most important thing you are going to take from this experience?" Ian was a mature student and I was counting on him to remind me of a magnificent pearl of wisdom I had spouted at some point during the course. Instead he reminded me of a time when we were climbing and he had reached an overhang and stopped in his tracks overwhelmed by the moves ahead. He had turned around and stated "I can't do it". Apparently, I berated him threw a string of profanities in his general direction and finally suggested that "with an attitude like that he was never going to succeed."

    When Ian told the story, I think I blushed I was so ashamed, trust me I try not to make this my usual teaching style. However, he smiled and said it was the best advice he had ever been given because he changed his thinking about the climb and felt the euphoria of accomplishment as a result. Talking to him 15 years down the line, he still lives by the idea that believing in himself is the starting point of success.

    So yet again I am reminded that learning is inspired by all sorts of different comments and stories.

    Thanks for being a teacher Mary and allowing me to be one as well.

    Take care,

    The curmudgeonly husband who still thinks call waiting is a horrible put down.

  3. dcgirl - Being in the moment is huge. I agree that multi-tasking is necessary at times but we do totally miss out like you pointed out. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Wil - I love the throw-away comments that really have a huge impact. I tell you what, in the week since I've heard it I've been more present than ever. Thank you for that!