Thursday, March 16, 2017

Are We Really Here?

I am doing a little mindfulness experiment. Growing up, I was encouraged to give up something for Lent- usually something thought of as "bad" for us (sugar, coffee, tv etc.) My own take on this was to find and surrender those things or habits that made us less available to God/the Mystery/the Sacred. This year, what came as I meditated on being more available to the Unconditional Love that holds us, something new came: to give up doing more than one thing at a time.

It makes sense- but is much harder than I imagined it would be. I live alone. When I walk into the kitchen to make food or clean up I flip the radio on and listen as I work. I often watch something on my computer when I eat, or talk with a friend on a telephone headset when I am doing mundane housekeeping chores. I listen to music when I am out walking.

Now don't get me wrong- I don't think that these or a thousand other instances of engaging my mind with something while I am doing something else are in any sense "bad." But, operating this way does split my attention, and means I am rarely 100% with the task at hand.

So, I decided to try it. And what I'm realizing is how rarely I actually bring all of my attention to the present moment when I am not formally meditating. And, of course, even without distraction from the outside, I can take myself away from the task at hand by thinking about yesterday or planning for tomorrow.

And I wonder: how much of my life am I missing simply because I am almost always doing more than one thing at a time? I wonder if I love reading so much because I simply cannot do it while doing something else. Well, that's almost true- I often read while taking a bath. The challenge becomes: can I do one thing at a time- bring my full attention to cutting vegetables without simultaneously hearing the news; feel the sensation of soaking in hot water without reading; take a walk with my senses opened to the experience of shifting weight as I move avoiding cars; do nothing else while I am listening to the news, watching a movie or talking with a friend?

I invite you to join me and share what you experience here. Based on my recent experience, I would suggest keeping expectations low: try it for the morning or an afternoon and just notice what happens, or do it for just an hour during the busyness of the day.

If someone pushed me to articulate the purpose of life in just a few words, I would say, "To be here, now. To show up." Turns out that's not as easy as it sounds, but there is really no where else to be.

~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2017

The photos of Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming always make me pause, take a breath and find the present moment.


  1. Hi Oriah
    Great post and one would have to say a good portion of the population multi task often.
    When i draw, in complete silence, this is a time for me of most presence. The disciplined awareness that comes from drawing well (realism is my passion), means complete mindfulness on the subject. And it is singularly the most exhilarating experience of my day...oh and waking up next to my snoring Sausage dog...also a moment that deserves full and grateful attention. ����
    If I'm mentally preoccupied or even slightly distracted or unhappy, the process and result show this. When I'm in the moment, observing fully, loving what i see, truly noticing value, shape and depth, then I'm completely one with the process, i seem to improve with little effort and what results blows my mind, as though a higher hand lends itself. This is when i am here and now and i fully show up. And this 'Power of Now' (to borrow Eckhart Tolle's book title), is also one of the best ways to heal a heap of our life drama and find the extraordinary peace in the moment.
    Excellent blog thank you beautiful lady. You are loved.

    1. Poppy, love your description of the feeling and texture of the moment when we are truly present. It can be elusive but truly wonderful. Also love your observations about how ability seems to increase effortlessly with attention. Yes!

  2. One quiet night recently, I found myself gazing at the stars above and realized I missed them, missed them as I would an old friend. In the past I would sit comfortably in a lounge chair, and in the peacefulness of the time of day when the world was asleep, I would simply look at the starry night in wonder, in awe, and in love. Love for life. Love for the Universe. Love for all that is good. I had not been aware of the loss of my beautiful companion because I had been too busy “living life.” Had not stargazing been living my life? Yes, it had, and I realized it had been so long since I visited my old pal, the starry sky, that I couldn't even remember the last time I had. Did I stop at once, right then and there, to sit in my comfy chair and look up at the stars above? Nope. I felt too restless to take the time. Looking back, if I am honest with myself, that was a warning sign – I was allowing myself to be too busy to do the things I enjoy, the things that bring presence into my life. Thank you, Oriah, for you have helped me to remember that I MUST revisit and reorder the choices I make in my bustling life, and take the time to “stop and see the stars." With love, Gina

    1. Oh Gina, I know that restless feeling that stops me from just dropping what I am doing and move into what calls me well (although I admit I always feel a little baffled by it at the time.) May you find your way back to the stars - missing them seems to be the first step. Oriah