It’s hard to convey exactly what being present is, without accompanying it with the actual sensation you would feel while in the act of BEING present.
Simply put, being present is existing in a state where your mind isn’t in the past, or on list of things to do in the future. You, your mind, your body, are fully immersed in the moment and all that it contains; sensations, emotions, your environment, the experience and all it brings up for you without censoring or denying or holding back. It’s simply to exist in all of what is occurring right. that. second.
One of the fastest ways to get present is through sensation.
Right here, right now, tune into what you’re feeling. How does what is supporting you (floor, chair, cushion) feel under the pressure of your flesh and bones. Feel that… literally lose yourself in that multi leveled sensation right now. Then, do it again.
Eventually, you’ll notice that for those few seconds, that was all that existed before you; just the act of focusing your attention on what you were feeling in that part of your body, right in that moment. At first you have to look for it in your body. But over time, a short time at that, you’re able to just zero in on the physical sensation of your bum on a chair and just… feel.
That is presence.
Now we look at food.
I write a lot about the significance of being present with our food and dining experiences in Cultivating Your Food Practice as well as this site because it is at the very foundation of a Food Practice. Presence is a practice that deepens the nourishment we receive from our food on multiple levels, and eating food is also the one of the easiest ways to practice the art of presence in general.
Why? Because nothing engages all of our senses as richly as eating food. Sight, smell, taste, touch… even sound, when we crunch down on something, is involved.
Food is an utterly sensual experience, and the deeper we allow ourselves to fall into all of those sensual experiences it offers, the more present we become.
The visuals, the beauty and colors, the aromas that speak to the varied ingredients that went into making your food, the way it tastes and feels in your mouth, all contribute. All of it nourishing us by transporting us to the one thing that matters and has the power to heal us most, being utterly present in the moment. The Buddhist speak of presence, the Tantrics speak of presence…. myriad new age groups espouse the essentiality of being present in order to bring peace and expansion to our minds and souls.
Food, eating… it’s here. And not only is eating food in this intentioned manner a spiritual practice in presence that will touch the whole of your life, but it also deepens the nourishment and enjoyment you gain from eating food. It provides you with a relaxing pleasurable experience that makes digestion and assimilation of nutrients easier as well as offering up a moment of presence, pleasure and nourishment that feeds your very soul.
Next time you eat, close your eyes, inhale the smells.
Next time you eat, slow it all way down.
Next time you eat, close your eyes, be in silence and taste all the flavors in your mouth as they roll across your tongue.
Next time you eat, explore the textures of that food as it grazes all the surfaces of your mouth and grinds between your teeth.
Next time you eat, lose yourself in the pleasure of the experience.
Then come back here later and tell me how that was for you.