When we show up and are fully present, the possibilities are limitless. This summer I had a number of experiences that made me reflect on what it means to truly show up. I am the first one to admit that I often confuse the meaning of “showing up” with “doing a lot.” I am, by nature, an extrovert and I love to be out there and experience the world fully. There are many issues that I am passionate about but for me it is impossible to truly “show up” for all them AND be present.
When I overcommit, I end up doing a lot, but I am not really showing up and being present.
I spent a good portion of the summer with my Mother in Spain. For those of you who don’t know me, my Mother lives on an island off the coast of Spain and is an Ashtanga yoga teacher. She also happens to be born in August and is therefore a Virgo (astrological sign). Generally speaking, Virgos are known to be detail-oriented, demanding (of themselves and others), and somewhat controlling because of their obsessiveness with perfectionism. So, being with my Mom required me to be fully present because she pays attention to everything! I was nervous about spending an entire month with her because of the need to be fully present all the time…
One day, she encouraged me to go and experience a 5 Rhythm Dance class. You must understand that my Mom is a trailblazer. In her lifetime, she has experienced many things, often without the encouragement of those around her. Before settling on Ashtanga Yoga, she tried many practices, including ecstatic dance, 5 Rhythms, and many other body movement exercises. I had never heard of this practice before, and at first, I resisted the suggestion. My story was: too hot, too pricey, too complicated, too soon, too this and too that…. She insisted and gifted me with the class. And guess what? Dancing made me truly show up and be present in that moment. I got out of my head and into my body. I experienced joy, sadness, anger, laughter, and community. It was powerful and transformative. I realized that my mind, my ego, is so often in the way of me showing up fully. Can anyone of you relate to this mind issue? FYI, the picture that accompanies this write up was taken during the 5 Rhythm dance class that we did on the beach at dawn. It symbolizes infinite possibility, spaciousness, and unlimited potential.
Below is a reading from our beloved Teacher Thy, that resonated with my quest to fully show up!
Being Present, from the book Work, by TNH, pg. 74-76
Many of us try to divide ourselves up because we feel we don’t have enough time. We imagine we give eight percent of ourselves to our work, ten percent to our family, five percent to our friends, and two percent to do charitable work. But if you do this, you end up never being fully present anywhere for anyone. Wherever you are, you can be there one hundred percent. You can be fully present.
Gardeners can’t garden unless they’re physically present in the garden, taking care of the different flowers, the trees, the vegetables, and the greens. If there are flowers that have wilted or branches that have broken off, or if there are weeds, grass, or fallen leaves, then a good gardener knows how to transform this decaying vegetable matter and can turn it into rich compost to nourish the trees and the flowers. Our bodies, our feelings, our perceptions, our mind and our consciousness are our garden and we need to be fully present to work in our garden, just like the gardener who is watering, weeding and transforming.
We need to be present for ourselves. Imagine a country without a government, without a president, without a king, or a queen. That country would have nobody to take care of it. Every country needs to have some form of government. It’s the same for ourselves. We need to be present in our own “country,” to take care of ourselves, to be the king, the queen, or the president. We need to know what is precious and beautiful in order to protect it, just as we need to know what is not beautiful in order to remove it or fix it. We need to be there and not run away from our responsibility. There are however people who don’t want to be king; they don’t want to take on this responsibility, they just want to run away because it is so tiring to be king.
We use many means to run away. We run away by watching television, by reading the newspaper, we go on the internet, we play computer games, or we listen to music. We don’t want to return to our land. We are kings or queens who refuse to accept the responsibility of governing our own state. But we need to become aware of our responsibility; we need to take on the role of governor, return home and take care of ourselves.
Part of taking care of ourselves is knowing that we have limitations and we can’t do everything. Our bodies and our energies are limited. As a teacher, I also have limits. I would like to be able to travel everywhere and teach in all the places I am invites to. But if I allowed myself to do that, in spite of my desire to help as many people as possible, I would die sooner from exhaustion because the demand is very great, and my body and health are limited. We have to learn to say no in order to preserve ourselves, so we can continue our life and work longer.
You have to acknowledge the fact that you have limits. You have more than enough intelligence to be able to know your limits and to adopt a working schedule that responds to your true needs, for your own good and for the good of your family and community.