Being Present Off the Mat; A Wake Up Call to the Busy Yogi

Being Present Off the Mat

By Lauren Collins


We have control issues because society has control issues.
Let’s admit it, be proud of our wounds, and wear our scars like warpaint. We are healing from being held down by unrealistic standards made by strangers we don’t know, and accidentally enforced by friends we love. Healing from the PTSD of waking up from these control issues is how many Yogis have discovered their relationship with contemplative practices. It’s like taking the red pill. Maybe one day, you just woke up and couldn’t stand being contained any more, or maybe it was a long slow painful process of actualizing the fact that you are actually irreplaceable and can’t be controlled. Either way, it’s a VERY liberating slap in the face when you take your first deep breath & exhale the bullshit. Done playing catch up with the future? Let’s be in the moment. Let’s be present. 

Yeah, totally down - but what the heck does “In the moment” even mean? In order to go with the flow, you have to learn to adapt in a non-hostile environment. You can detach from taking things so personally, and still you get to be extremely personal through compassion, deeper understanding, and flexibility! Everything you practice on the mat with yourself is relevant to how you walk through your daily life. As you deepen your personal practice, this will begin to unfold so subtly that when you do realize, you’ll already have a very different and much more compassionate perspective with your immediate surroundings - and be just a little bit sweeter to yourself. Oh, to surrender that hard-ass cold work ethic that got you the promotion for the job we both know your waiting out while looking for that dream job! Trust me, it feels good to give that version of you a much needed hug; to surrender the standards, and acknowledge that you are being content without being complacent. Remember, when you are chasing your dreams, you don’t always have to chase the future. You are already making it happen. You can be present. 

Why the rush? When building the Utopian construct of society we left out the idea of community.  We stopped leaving room for our inherent compassion, stopped caring for & being kind to ourselves, and kind of started acting like emotionless bugs that don’t get to experience our human emotional capacity. We didn’t do it on purpose, but we are responding to the daily grind with an exhausted hive mind mentality. Wake up, build the thing, don’t die, go to bed. HELLO, WERE NOT BUGS! We get to contemplate the future, the past, and the present, with just a little too much emphasis on being in an unexplainable rush. What are we rushing to, death? Sit down, find your center, and breathe. Slow down & be present. 

We are influenced to measure our societal success by how often we win the game of catch up, so lets detach from the idea that if we aren't setting the trend we’re not successful, and if we’re not keeping up with the trend were not in the running to ‘win’ at life. Pretty controlling ideologies, if you ask me, and yes I am giving some serious side eye to some very undefinable forces right now. When we stop encouraging the construct that If were not successful then we’re just surviving, then we can start healing. We are so much bigger than that, and if we let that idea control us, its really going to put a damper on the whole being in the present moment-thing. Besides, its a VERY unnatural  invisible standard that glorifies personal success as societal worth. You are valuable and deserve your inner peace. Just like you show up to your favorite yoga class for you, you show up to life for you and your dharma only. You deserve to have your present moment. 

Diving deeper, let’s  talk about admirable skills that all humans have, like being detail oriented. That invisible standard only acknowledges it in a way that defines your worth to a company’s future. We as a society forget what being detail oriented really is, like feeling the direction of the wind change. We as a society forgot that how we experience the details of the Earth makes us completely irreplaceable and individual. We as a society forgot that we can create balance with our detail oriented nature. But, we as a community can remind ourselves to practice. Every day, we can zoom in and zoom out to see a bigger picture, to observe and let things unfold in front of us without needing to control them. We can take our practice off the mat, hold our center, embrace our breath. We have permission to be present.

Remember when you were a child and you held the stick in your hand dragging it along the fence, feeling the changing textures & tracing the corners you’d turn  as you made your way down the street to a friends house, or maybe to the bus stop. You were memorizing that path through natural intuition & exploration, just as you do flowing through vinyasa. You were just observing while being present on your journey. That is the kind of detail oriented you should strive for. Hold onto that. When life gets fast & you’re not on your mat, hold on to that person who is gentle, breathe in the moment, and know that you are BIG and uncontrollable. You are present. 


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