Tonight at the studio, while hanging curtains to serve as a buffer against the winter chill (not the ones pictured, they’re just pretty), a cornucopia of thoughts and feelings was ushered in with the draft. Excitement, anxiety, expectation and pride came rushing into my orb, swaying me from the simple task at hand. It is so easy to be in the midst of life, participating in small projects and almost simultaneously be swept away, eventually running along behind a quickening and spiralling train of thought.
While drilling into the plaster wall I found myself thinking about the abundance of tasks on the horizon. First curtains, then shelves, then rugs, then probably a table in the back, ooh and building the divider wall, and, and… within an instant, I had become wrapped up in a series of events that had yet to transpire. I found myself overwhelmed by the future, a time frame that had yet to come into existence. Taking a deep breath I thought about the conundrum of how one prepares for the future while maintaining a strong foothold in the present. These are some of the things I know for certain:
ONE. Something will always happen and worrying will not change the outcome. Buy the materials to build the shelf, yes – taking action will serve you in some manner or another. But spending time in your head fretting over possible outcomes will definitely not help you in the present nor will it impact the way things eventually unfold.
TWO. Permitting oneself to be swept away from the present into a rabbit hole of to-do lists with all of the associated anxieties is complete self-inflicted suffering. Granted, in busy modern life there are perpetually tasks at hand. However, living for a future that does not exist in lieu of committing oneself to the present moment will consistently lead to suffering. I promise.
THREE. Expectations can be dangerous. Being invested in a specific outcome residing in the future means having an attachment to something that has yet to exist and may never exist. Expectations only seem not to hurt us when the plan dreamt up unfolds exactly as imagined – and how often does that actually happen? So buy the tools, build the wall and do the best job you can. Commit yourself entirely to these present actions that will undoubtedly impact the future. Connect to your present situation for what it is and not what it could be.
Tonight, I was hanging the curtains to ward off the frosty draft for my classes tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. Perhaps many of your daily actions are designed to get you someplace else altogether: studying for an exam, driving home after work – the list is endless. Even though the task at hand may be orchestrated in order to accommodate a later plan, there is still the option to be fully present, disabling the to-do list barrage and arriving in the moment. Yoga can help you to do this.
It is possible to be on a path that is leading elsewhere, at the same time surrendering to the very real present moment. Continue breathing and let the often overwhelming nature of the “to-do list” whirl out on the exhale. Look at exactly what it is you are doing right now and commit to it. Wash that dish. Build that shelf. I continually work to recognize that moment, the precise instant I vacate the present in favour of chasing the future. Gently I bring myself back, looking at my current actions and surrendering to them wholly. And when it is time for the next task we, both you and I, can be present for that as well, committed and at the same time fully engaged in this life.