ME TIME: Being here now
If you are under 45, Republican, or make $100,000 a year, the American philosopher Ram Dass probably doesn’t mean much to you. In my life, though, his principle philosophy is invoked on a regular basis: Be Here Now. One of my earliest memories is of my mom telling me, “Jessica, if you are always looking forward to the next thing then you never appreciate what you are doing.” which made absolutely no sense to me at the time and so when I tell my 6-year-old son the same thing I REALLY emphasize the WORDS.
I get it now. I understand what Mom was saying. Hell, I’ve even read Dass’s Wikipedia entry so I’m basically an expert. The irony is that even though I am a Be Here Now believer, I am also part of a family unit that spends 100+ days on the road and so a lot of my time is passed planning for other events. We may be living in London for the summer but we are already planning a party in New Orleans in the fall. Lazy weekends in New Orleans are used to plan our next trip to the UK. Booking flights, researching hotels, emailing restaurants, packing, unpacking and don’t forget writing, writing, writing about what has happened, what is about to happen, what didn’t happen. We haven’t even touched on the connectivity to anywhere-but-here that “smart phones” delivers. On the beach in Barbados? Makes me think about our August trip to Jamaica. Better just turn on my phone and make some notes. Back in London? Better email New Orleans to make our house is still standing. It is an addiction to communicating with, thinking about, commenting on anything but what is happening to you, real time, in the moment.
I think this is why I love cooking so much. It is my opportunity to do just one thing. I don’t use the time to email my friends or check Instagram or Twitter or Amazon or, well, anything. I just cook.
But I can’t always use cooking to keep me grounded. I’m not always in the kitchen. Sometimes I’m walking down the street thinking of the dozens of things I am supposed to do and I get a few blocks and I realize that I completely missed the walk. I don’t remember crossing the street or whether shops were open or closed or whether I even passed anyone. So when I recently learned a meditation technique that could be done anywhere, I realized I could use the pointers. Now don’t worry – I voted for Bloomberg after he switched to the GOP ticket and I used to drive an Audi so if you are afraid that this is some hippie-dippie BS, stick with me. It’s apolitical. This is a medication technique that you can do wherever you are, anytime, anyplace. No sitting crosslegged. No white cotton leggings. No Enya. It’s a way to just stop and be where you are.
This is the totality of it:
1. Stop what you are doing
2. Close your eyes or focus on a point in the horizon
That’s it. Just listen to everything that is going on around you.
Here, I’ll start (live blogging meditation…this is weeeeeeird) This is what I hear: The click clack of a woman’s shoes on the wood floor, the electric whirr of the cappuccino machine, the murmur of conversations a few tables down, the Australian accents coming from the table next to me. The faint laughter coming from the hostess stand. The click on and off of the air conditioning. The clink of glasses, the metal of a wine bucket hitting the stand, the swinging of double hinged doors, the tearing off of a credit card receipt…
You won’t believe it until you try it but it does an impressive job of grounding you, keeping you in the moment, and making you appreciate exactly where you are.
Give it a shot. Take the time to just be. Remember that if you are always looking forward to the next thing, you’ll never appreciate the life philosophy your mom preaches when you are 5 years old.