One of the benefits of yoga is the idea of moving into a state of mind of being “present” or in the present. As a definition of being present (for this post at any rate) I propose ‘a state of mind where I(or you) are completely focused on the situation that is occurring as it occurs without the distracting thoughts of past, future or what’s for dinner.’
Being present is a big deal in yoga and meditation circles. It is viewed as a gateway to moving to a higher level training and concentration. On top of that, there are articles, blogs and research that all tout the benefits of practicing this present mind. Better concentration, less fatigue, more happiness, stress reduction, boosting the immune system and so many more.
But being present isn’t easy. Especially not in today’s gadget filled, always connected world. The opportunities for distractions to take us away from the present are increasing daily, and the distractions themselves are growing more invasive. It takes a great deal of planning to avoid these interruptions to life (cell phones, television, tablets, social media, etc.). For example, I look at cell phone coverage maps of the United States to find places with little to no coverage and then plan a vacation there just so I get enforced down time.
That has become less practical since I first started doing it as cell coverage has gotten better across the country and what is left uncovered is most likely someplace I don’t want to visit. However, there are things that can be done every single day to help us find and stay present. Even if it’s not throughout the whole day, I find tiny bits of presence to be welcome.
One way I build presence into my day is to set aside and guard ferociously time with my family. During that time there is a self-imposed gadget black-out. This black-out has a few benefits. First, it is together time where we all focus on nothing but each other. Second, since it is a scheduled activity, we know that anything that needs attention needs to be done beforehand. This allows for a natural transition time from the hectic life to the present life because no one likes feeling rushed so we wrap things up early, just in case.
Another is to disengage my cell phone from my hip. This happens when I work out, have family time and sleep. My cell is in another room entirely overnight. There is no chance of the buzz, flickering light or ring of distraction to suck me in.
The last way I wanted to share today is one I practice with my daughter (well, I try to practice with everyone, but I put the most effort in with her). That is to give her my complete and undivided attention when we are together. This could be a conversation in the car after picking her up from school, over dinner, or my favorite time of the day, which is breakfast.
This dedicated, focused time of active listening allows us to talk, share ideas and thoughts and to feel truly heard by the other. If there is any single benefit that I believe men can take from yoga, above improved health, flexibility and all that, is the ability to connect with our families in a deeper and more meaningful manner.