By Brynne Duty
As we continue to shelter-in-place, many of us have found that somehow our days are even more packed than before. We've had to pivot in so many ways - the way we work, the way we parent, the way we educate, and even the way in which we move through the physical world. We've also had to take on new roles, add responsibilities, manage our own emotions and assist family with navigating theirs, and learn to find a sense of community even as we remain physically separate. That's quite a lot to handle, and it can be easy to get swept along, following the mind back to a more comfortable past, or forward to visions of the future. While reflection and planning certainly have value, if we get stuck in those modes, we can begin to feel groundless and uprooted. Gently bringing the mind back to the present can help us to re-plant and find a sense of anchoring.
This idea of being present, of bringing the mind into "now" in order to cultivate a sense of calm and inner exploration is at the heart of yogic philosophy and literature. As one of my beloved teachers introduced it to me, the text of the Yoga Sutras is divided into 4 books. The first line of each book can be seen as a synopsis of that book. Likewise, the first word of the entire work can be seen as a synopsis of the entire work. The first word is "now." If you just got chills, you are not alone - it gets me every time.
The breath is one of the most accessible tools we have to quickly focus the mind on the present - even closing our eyes for just 5 breaths can have a much bigger impact than the effort it took to do so. We can also tap into this present space through being absorbed in something we truly connect with, something that is familiar, yet a bit challenging. It's that feeling we get after coming out of being immersed in something and not being sure of anything else that has happened during that time. However we get there, dropping into the present, the here and now, can help us catch up, ground, and collect ourselves to better face the days ahead.