The problem with modern existence in a corporate, capitalist world is that we are bombarded with concepts, ideas and products to fill our every desire, and which, in turn, create products of us and our lives. We have little chance to simply be. We eat, sleep, exercise, work and play under the explicit influence of the “best” way to do all these things.
A counselor once told me I needed a T shirt which says, ” The Should man…” to remind me what not to do. She meant that I live in a flood of “shoulds”. I should work, exercise, eat well, have fun, call friends…Yes, I even make work out of fun things. I felt like a puppet dragged about by strings of goals, ideas, concepts, lists. I existed only in terms of what I accomplished, driven by deadlines.
I used to have a list of “to do” things pulling me forward first thing in the morning. Now I stay present in my body and awareness as I decide and intend what I will do. In the first case, I am not in control. In the second, I am.
When we live our lives under the veil of ideas, we live from the outside in. That’s backwards. We are trying to form our lives without knowing the material we are working with, our bodies and minds. Those are the instruments of our lives. When we find balance from the inside out, ideas motivate and enrich us. Intentions become more clear. Fear loosens its grip. Our moment to moment existence has a continuity based on our physical and behavioral reality. We intend our minds and bodies in one direction or another.
The next time you feel the tug of “shoulds” and “have tos” washing over you, pulling you in different directions, ask yourself what your intention is. Why “should” I…? Where does your intention fit into the big picture of your life? Sometimes those lists are just habit. Do they really serve you and your life? Do they help you evolve? Or just maintain?
Stay aware of your breathing and take a moment to come into the space you are in. Be where you are with your body and mind. Find the center of your physical balance. As you soften into being where you are, bring up your mental lists. Notice your body and the room/space you are in. Did you disappear? Come back. Now try that “to do” list again, as you remain in your body.
We need to steer the ship from the helm before we can set sail to exotic lands. Tugging ourselves around with ideas leads to wandering lost at sea, with only mirages of tropical islands hovering around us, forever alluring, never reached.
Staying present assures that you are at the helm. Happy sailing.