I have had the fortunate opportunity to travel to the historical European country of Italy. The first few days in Europe were spent in the art-centric city of Florence. Surrounded by the historical backdrop of gardens, galleries, cathedrals, and museums, we were immediately introduced to Italian living: post-Renaissance art and architecture, Michaelangelo's David, piazzas, sculptures, paintings of the Madonna, da Vinci's Annunciation, Chianti wines, and expressos!
Traveling to a new place can leave one a little unsettled at first. New foods, an unfamiliar language, a different bed, a different time zone, etc. All of these and more can make you a bit confused and disoriented. In order to feel at ease and at home, one must pay close attention to the new details that surround you: the signs in a different language, maps and directions to your destinations, prices and currency exchange rates. Paying attention to these types of details requires one to be in the moment. If you become distracted, it is easy to get lost, turned around, and even more confused.
A good way to stay in the moment, to orient yourself to your new and current surroundings, is to be still, open your eyes, and breathe. Bring your awareness to the object you are focusing on. Creating this mindful attention brings you to the present. It allows the mind to be filled with what it needs to absorb; acquainting yourself to what is happening right here and right now.
We can do this even in our most familiar of settings: home, work, school. It is easy to run through the motions of our daily lives because we become so accustomed to the routines of our daily activities. So, in the midst of the routine, try this very simple yoga practice that allows you to arrive in the moment.
Make it a conscious decision when you get home, for example, to arrive there as if it is your very first time to this residence. Take out your keys, slowly unlock the door, step through the threshold and pause. Take a look at what you see...for the first time. Open your eyes wide. Scan the room you have entered. Pay attention to the signs and symbols, the pictures, the plants, the aroma, the colors, etc. Take it all in. Truly arrive in your home as if you were the foreigner arriving in a new town. Notice something in the room that appears new to you. Pay attention to a painting or picture on the wall that you normally walk by. Take a breath. Be in the moment. Absorb. Arrive.
This may not seem like a regular yoga practice. You didn't have to unroll your yoga mat and move through various poses. Yoga can be thought of more as a way of life. It can be the practice of being more aware and present; arriving at the place where you are. So, this simple yoga practice of arriving at home (or at work) as if it was your first time, can truly be a yoga practice with intention.
Written in Florence Italy, July 22, 2013.