Being present is more complicated than it seems. Thoughts about work or any number of things can get noisy, even during downtime.
When I sit down on my yoga mat, my mind doesn't automatically clear. It goes something like this:
I need ____ at the grocery store.
I should check in with ____.
What if ____ happens?
Eventually, I remember to return my focus to the breath, and to be in the present moment.
Earlier this month, I camped with my family along the Little Pigeon River, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Our tents were about 15 feet away from the fast-moving water.
The sound -- therapeutic.
The cool water -- refreshing.
The time away -- truly needed.
It was an opportunity to simply be.
We cooked meals in a cast-iron dutch oven by campfire each night. On one particular evening, I began worrying about timing the meal before dark, and about getting all food supplies back to the truck due to bears.
Then, the water caught my attention. Whoosh.
The sound returned loudly, like raising the volume on a TV.
My constant reminder to be in the moment was there all along, but my thoughts had become louder than the water.
It isn't practical to never think about the past or future. (Would anything get done that way?!)
Still, carving out a moment or two each day to return to the present moment -- even if just stepping away from a heated conversation to take five breaths -- can restore peace during an otherwise hectic day.