Everybody knows that scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Ben Stein plays the part of the ineffective, monotone teacher that calls roll to a group of distracted and daydreaming kids and gets no response when he comes to Ferris's name, who's at home playing hooky. (Well at least I hope most people know that scene. Recently, I've found that there is a generation coming up right behind mine that often has no clue what I'm referencing when I talk movies. Think about it. There's an entire generation that has NO idea that Eddie Murphy was once funny. They never saw Raw or Delirious or Coming to America. They only know him as the guy from Norbit and The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Sad, right?)
In my own life, I often feel like I'm sitting in that classroom. Distracted, no longer by the hot guy in my 3rd period class, but by my to-do list and all of the things I'm juggling or worrying about in life instead (see blog about freaking out about female fertility). So, I often struggle to be present where I am. I will walk several blocks, and snap out of a strange haze to realize I've missed my turn, or even worse, that I've reached my destination and don't even really remember the walk. Sometimes I will eat a whole meal while chatting with friends or watching TV, and look down and realize it's almost gone and I didn't even really taste it.
This holds true in Lithe too. Sometimes I'll zone out during a long series at the barre (although sometimes that's a coping mechanism) and realize that I'm so lost in thought that my form is completely sloppy and in some extreme cases, I have just stopped moving altogether and am staring off to the side in the throes of some deep thought. Not good. (Also, I think it slightly terrifies the people sharing the barre with me.)
I try my hardest to focus and pump myself up for not letting my mind wander, but turns out, being present is tough stuff. Some studies blame technology. That all of the multitasking our brains have to accomplish--writing emails while constantly being interrupted by other emails, while receiving a text or remembering to respond to one, while being taunted by the little red Facebook notification that just can't wait until you finish something else you're working on. That it's all overloading our brains and making it harder for us to pay attention to the moment or task at hand.
But it seems like it's more than too. Recently, I was reading an Alice Waters cookbook and she was talking about preparing a salad, and how much she enjoys washing and preparing the lettuce. Like what? I HATE that about making a salad. This is why boxed lettuce is the best things since sliced bread. But then she kept explaining. She said she loves how meditative it is to pull the leaves apart and to hear the fresh, cracking sound they make. How fresh they smell. How cool the water feels on her hands and how satisfying it is to rinse each leaf clean of the dirt it has grown in.
That was such a revelation for me. Like, if you really take notice of what you're doing, instead of thinking of it as something you need to get through to get to the reward or the goal--in this case a salad smothered in Ranch dressing (sorry, Alice)--that everything can be an experience. That clearly I haven't been thinking of life as happening right now in this moment, but have instead been lost in thought about yesterday or tomorrow. I'm looking forward to a trip, or reliving a get together by looking at pics of it online. I've been acting as if my life happens at some other time--when I'm not typing at my desk or washing the dishes.
So I've been trying it, being mindful that is, of what is happening in the present. During little things-- like washing my hands. I feel the water. I smell the soap. When I'm cooking. Instead of just wanting to get through it to get to the meal, I'm smelling the garlic and listening to the sounds of the knife as I chop through it. And it has been pretty cool. Not only is it keeping me from drifting away from the moment, but it's also helping me to enjoy the moment. Even in the mundane. I paid close attention to a turkey sandwich the other day, and it turns out...it was DELICIOUS. Made me think we could all benefit from a little more mindfulness in our day, if not just for that. At the very least, it might help with our form!
See you in class!