“My pen is so often in the past, rarely the present.”
From the first page of my journal this week I have fixated on being present. These thoughts were prompted by seeing a friend, school and my significant other. I have stayed away from writing poetry this week, not because I want to, I just haven’t written and I struggle to write if my mind is not already flooded with ideas and words. At times I still found myself lingering on old memories and often it is this metaphorical hovering which prompts my pen. Yet, in my Sunday entry I expressed the wish to record new moments, the present.
My journal had not reached a day a page, a paragraph at most – the present did not offer much to write about it seemed. I captured moments where, I fell in love with teaching again on Tuesday and reflected on the amount of time spent with my significant other. I had been somewhat present.
However, it was Thursday which altered my view of the present. In teaching we have what is called CPD, Continuing Professional Development; many workplaces have it under various guises I’m sure. This week it was whole school and focused on mindfulness. Mindfulness, originating in Buddhism, is about being present whether that be through meditation, walking, yoga etc. It is a lot about focusing only on your breathing and holding your thoughts there, rather than allowing them to wander into the past or future. Sceptically, I would offer the reason we struggle being present and tend to worry about before and after is because ultimately our present is the past and future combined. The optimist in me wanted to give it go. I prefer my own breathing to bells and wind chimes, however, I’ve even discovered being mindful can be just a small change.
Many know I recently resigned and joined a new school, in the weeks leading up to this, although I knew I was going, the stress remained, I decided to begin showering or bathing in the evening instead of in the morning. I always struggled in the morning anyway so this small change allowed me to reclaim some sleep. It also forced a cut off time every evening where for 30 to 90 minutes I sat alone in a bath or beneath a flow of hot water and did not dwell on anything, I was just there for 30 or so minutes, in the present. This habit led to a new work life balance where I work more at the weekend in order to keep my evenings completely free.
I’ve realised being mindful or present is not too hard if it becomes routine. However, I have felt at peace this weekend; incredibly so. Yesterday, I wrote the following:
“I wanted to record my ‘mindful’ moment today. I lied on the bed at 1pm with Jake and took an impromptu nap, not for long but in my waking moments I think I noticed more about him than I have in a while. I noticed the warmth of his skin, mottled pale pinks and olive undertones along his forearms and stray white hairs and flecks of ginger upon his chin. I noticed his undulating breathing, its depth dependant on my fidgeting. I noticed how one moment he is 6’3 and masculine, the next, curled inward and vulnerable. In one moment, he became the person I like to hold and be held by, to care for and be cared for. Love matures and it is the small moments which have the greatest impact.”
This week, I started by fixating on what it means to be present and by the end I am just being, present.