Being present to life

By Teresa Sosa Vegas

There's only one important time and that is now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person you are with who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future?
-Thich Nhat Hanh     

When a child stands before us, our guarded adult world generally disappears. What seeps in is a bit of fun, of innocence, of wonder and awe. Life looks different  through the eyes of a three year old. Our protective self-erected barriers disappear.

Many religions teach the value of being present; we are enraptured by a smile, notice the breath, luxuriate in a smell, hear a sound and explore the depth of a word. It involves moving through our barriers, letting go of blame and judgment, and being open to outcomes, according to anthropologist Angeles Arriens. 

Children are mirrors to adults, of hopes and dreams for a future and of past joys and despair. A child’s future is not yet determined. With nurturing, engagement, serenity, knowledge, understanding, kindness and love that hopeful innocence can be expanded and shared throughout a life. Children are the flowers of humanity, fragile, delicate and need fertile soil, sunshine and the right amount of water to bloom.

Adults naturally form a hard external shell. It is  our way to protect the vulnerable parts of our self.  That shell is necessary for dealing with a  world that is often hectic, complex and stressful. Stress affects our health, it can kill.
In dealing with this stressful life, when was the last time we remembered to acknowledge the presence of and water our inner flower? When in survival mode we become reactionary and focused on the superficial. We are too busy. We forget about our flower.

No one can water the plants in our inner house except us. The care and nurturing  that we might give to a child can also flood the arid land of our inner lives. In that way, we can find a balance between our rigorous, structured mental world and the love, compassion and heartfelt presence within.

These are a few ways to engage with our deeper self:
  • Laugh

  • Yawn

  • Breathe deep and notice your breath

  • Stretch the arms, neck and torso for a few seconds an hour

  • Let your mind wander or daydream as if you were the child in the photo

  • Pray or meditate

These small efforts can create opportunities for personal change,  for self-realization and for being present and appreciative of the self.

Teresa Sosa Vegas, SOC.,MSW
, is a professor at Simon Bolivar University (USB) Post Graduate School of Political Science, Caracas, Venezuela

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