Not just attending

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I will readily hold up my hand and admit to stuffing headphones on and traipsing the walk to work oblivious of the world around me. Dodging traffic and careening cyclists, work men, mums with pushchairs and dogs sniffing at lampposts. I just hit the play button and get in my groove and off I go.  Which is all well and good when you have somewhere to be but sometimes I’m aware that I can do it in company too. I don’t mean listening to music, I just mean switching off, disconnecting in some way. Thinking of other chores I should be doing, that bill that needs paying, those birthday cards I should send, that lasagna that needs defrosting, the to-do list sat on my desk at work.

 Usually when I’m getting ready in the morning my brain is telling me the next three steps that are coming up ahead of time, “Shoes are upstairs in the basket, while you’re there grab your phone and bring your glass of water downstairs so you don’t have to go back up.” All this while the news is going on, Jemima is running around and my other half is trying to wolf down the scalding coffee I’ve just made.

This is fine. Thinking ahead is fine. Showing up is fine. But when, at the end of the day you’re sat on the sofa watching True Detective and your mind won’t stop racing and thinking of eleven other things, it might be good to just mentally hit pause on those thoughts. Not in a forever sense, just in a “I’ll pop back in a bit when I have a clearer head” way.

I think meditation might be the route to finding a pausing place, I used to do it quite a bit at uni (a hang-on from a school that thought meditation would keep us calm for exams -  it did)  if anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them!

I guess what I’m trying to say is I want to be as present as possible. I want to be able to sit down with a friend and devote my entire time to them and really engage in the precious moments we have together. I don’t want to just make the right noises and head movements while a million other things compete for my attention. I want to be able to take mental snapshots and treasure our conversations, to learn from others and grow more fully aware of all life's little surprises and details. So from now on I am setting out to be more present. In the moment, ditching the scrolling phone screen and other distractions and just getting stuck in.

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