Presence - by Laura Tropea
Presence. The state of acting or occurring as present in a time or place. To get present.
When I first started practicing yoga I would hear teachers say “be present,” “be here;” in fact, one of my own teacher’s favorite quotes is, “now here or nowhere;” and it wasn’t until recently I began to really experience the act of getting present on my mat, in my meditation practice and ultimately in my life. You see, I couldn’t access the present moment, because I was a paper chaser; no, not the kind who sought out dollar bills, as M.I.A. rallies on in Paper Planes, but rather the paper chaser who sought degrees, accolades and paper to distinguish, determine, validate who I was in the world. All this paper was clouding my perception and in turn my ability to get present.
It wasn’t until I heard a yoga teacher instruct a student who was struggling during a question and answer session to feel their feet. Not just metaphorically speaking, but to literally press their foot into the ground and express the physical sensations that arose out of that grounding. She then asked the student to focus on their breathing, and the sensation, physical and otherwise that arose when their attention, their drishti, was placed only on their breathe. Almost instantly the student visibly began to relax, to become clear, to get present.
And, as soon as the student started talking, I noticed I had been taking the cues as well, pressing my feet into the floor, acknowledging my breathe and for the first time (perhaps ever) present to only the experience within the room.
You see, I had placed Presence on an esoteric conceptual shelf, an unattainable goal held only for the most enlightened. And, in doing so, I created Presence as another paper to chase, another accolade to achieve, this time as Yogi.
So, when I start to hear the voice of “not good enough,” “you need to do more,” I now know I simply need to press my feet onto the earth, feel the support of the earth beneath me and listen to the sound of my own breath, my own heartbeat to know that life is only happening in that instance; and in that moment, I am exactly as I should be, perfect, whole, complete, present.
Baptiste-certified teacher and 90 Degrees North Power Yoga studio owner Laura Tropea contributes classes regularly to MyBaptistePractice.com through our livestream. Subscribe now and practice with her anytime, anywhere.
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