I like to think of myself as an even-tempered and optimistic person, but this year has been a major struggle for me, and I know I am not alone. Many people have struggled beyond belief during this time and my prayers are with all of you. Lately the phrase, “welcome to our new normal” or “get back to your new normal” has been ringing in my ears.  What if I liked my old normal? What is this new normal?  The obvious oxymoron aside, I have set the intention to flow with what is and try my very best not to force what isn’t. That may sound very yoga like but trust me, it’s not. If I am honest, it’s an intervention of sorts. 

Since the beginning of life, the child learns how to move, not how to be still.  What I realized during these days of reflection is that I had forgotten how to sit still. All of my time and energy had been directed toward my business and I had become attached to my schedule, my routine and my achievements. When everything stopped, my inner world changed. At first, I was positive but as the months went by the chatter in my mind got incredibly loud. The stories that we tell ourselves can have an enormous impact on how we show up in the world and for me, the stories were mostly about fear and anxiety.

How many of us can say the same? How many of us find validation in constantly going or doing for others? How many of us struggle with guilt, fear, anxiety when schedules go wrong and plans get turned on their head?  How many of us can be present with ourselves and be content? How many of us can enjoy a full day without any distraction?

The art of presence is a way of getting in touch with reality and understanding the difference between the world as it is and the world that we have created in our mind. For instance, when I pause and think about what is happening right now…The sky is blue, the air is clean, I have everything I need, I am happy. But if I wake up and feel sad or fearful and I let my mind become unruly, I don’t recognize the blue sky or the clean air, I don’t choose happiness. Instead, I think about all of the things that make me sad or fearful, even things that aren’t real. You see, many of us live everywhere but the present moment. We create a world in our mind, one that we’re used to, or one we think will make us happy. We think about it, we talk about it, we describe it.

I believe the practice of presence requires a balanced physical and mental body. The mind, the spirit and the body are not separate. What happens to one happens to the other. I learned a long time ago that I experience a more tranquil state of mind when my physical body is in balance. An agitated or distracted mind cannot be balanced. It could be a number of things, diet, sleep, exercise, relationships, work. This lack of balance manifests in many ways, anxiety, stress, physical illness, imagined stories, dullness. If your mind has turned against you there is no power on this planet that can change it except you. If you cannot harness your mind, then your mind and will harness you. The tiniest things we do each day—positive and negative alike—can make all the difference. One thought can bring you closer or farther away from where you ultimately want to be. 

So friends, as I navigate this chapter in my own life, I am taking small steps each day to find my balance, to appreciate the simple beauty of now. I am choosing to ride my bike and enjoy the fresh air. I am choosing to practice yoga and meditate. I am choosing to laugh often. I am choosing to show up for myself and discover the joy of today.