If you’re a seasoned meditator, you know that there’s a difference between being present and meditating. While one of the goals in meditation is the cultivation of mindfulness and a state of presence, being present refers to a state of being that isn’t necessarily limited to meditation. Some call it a walking meditation, a state of presence refers to how a person holds oneself while meandering through this thing called life.
Janice Gates pens this recent Yoga Journal post about her own difficulties in cultivating a state of presence. In recounting one of her first experiences with meditation, Gates compares her mind to that of a ping pong match. What she learned, however, was profound.
After a few years of studying with others who offered a little more in the way of technique, I came to realize that the state of meditation—what my old boyfriend described as doing nothing and enjoying a deep sense of presence—is different from the practice of meditation, which involves training the mind so that it can more readily slip into that state of meditation…
Even the mundane thoughts about groceries, the project due next week, and the vacation you’re hoping to take can trap you in an imagined future or a remembered past instead of allowing you to savor the richness of the moment.
Read more from Gates including several meditation exercises here.