I said it many times class, “Notice if the mind is wandering. Are you thinking about what happened at work today? Or what you will have for dinner?” It happens to me too and not just during yoga class. I’m doing one activity but my mind is somewhere else. We are all culpable. In fact, right this moment you may be reading this blog and thinking about what else you could be doing instead. Harvard University researchers found that 46.9% of the time we are thinking about something other than what we are doing. That is a lot of the time, and while a wandering mind is part of the human condition, evidence shows that it actually leads to unhappiness. Yoga encourages the practice of being present just for this reason. If we can try and keep the mind from vacillating between the past and the future and stay present, perhaps we can be grateful for what is. There is even a word for it in yoga; santosha. Santosha means contentment and the practice of patience, and acceptance of what is. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from our past mistakes and plan better for the future but that along the way we accept where we are. Being present helps us to avoid the vast space of what if’s and when’s and find whatever happiness exists in the moment.
I recently had to remind myself to stay present quite a bit. As you may know, my husband and I have been on an extended honeymoon to Greece and New Zealand. Over the past four months we have traveled many miles, seen some incredible vistas and experienced some truly unforgettable moments. Unexpectedly we even became tired of vacationing so for the last two months we have been working on a boutique vineyard in the lovely coastal town of Kaikoura, New Zealand. We have our own pair of gum boots, cursed the heavy winds and beetles which hurt the plants, chased sheep into a fresh paddock, and enjoyed past vintages’ fruits of our labor. It isn’t often couples get to work together and it has been a wonderful bonding experience as newly-weds.
We fly back to the US in February and the vineyard has coincidentally been our favorite place for “when we get back home” talk. As we weave between rows of vines coming in and out of each other’s sight, we have discussed and debated which restaurant we miss the most, where we will live when we return, where we should work, and when to start a family. Our discussions have been productive and calm, but there have been times when the anxiety of our future and our dwindling bank account looms and we become overly anxious and inpatient in figuring it all out right now. Then the yogi in me reminds me to stay present. I’ve had to remind myself to look around at this beautiful mountain basin, take it in and try not to worry for a future that hasn’t come. For now, I am here, fortunate enough to still be on vacation, so take a deep breath and trust that the answers will come in due time. Santosha isn’t easy, but just like other aspects of yoga it’s something we practice.
Two major roads have now been cleared from the earthquake’s rubble and we are leaving Kaikoura in the New Year with a solid month of travel ahead of us. While we look forward to being back home with our loved ones, doing what we love, we both know that we will never be quite so free from responsibilities again and in such an exquisitely beautiful place. So as we bid farewell to 2016, and look onward to 2017 I am trying not to forget to stay present along our journey and enjoy this and every moment for what it is.
Find the Harvard article here http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/
Pia returns to Refresh on President’s Day at 10 AM! Join her regularly on Monday nights at 5:10 PM and 6:15 PM starting February 27th.