Good Morning, SuperForest!
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on “The Art of Doing” and how absolute presence was something I was severely lacking in my life. Without even being fully aware of it, my mind would float to the past or drift toward the future and more often than not, this would build a lot of stress and tension. Noticing these problems and reflecting upon them was the first step, taking action was the second.
So I started out right away. Knowing my lack of presence was a brilliant opportunity for change and self-improvement, I decided to pick a day in which from the moment I got out of bed, to the moment I slipped back in, I would be “present” and “aware”. That particular day turned out be a Tuesday, and despite being aware of the challenge I was about to face, it was still much more difficult than I expected. But as time has progressed, it has (slowly) been easier to integrate “presence” in my normal consciousness. Here are a few things I learned along the way… my “field notes”, if you will. :)
1. Get rid of your daily to-do list. Instead of writing a long list of things you have to do that day, narrow it down to perhaps one or two things you get to do that day. That’s all. Just pick one thing you’re excited about and do that one thing while focusing all of your energy on it and removing all distractions in the periphery. Once you do that one thing, move on to another, and another, and so on. I was a skeptic about this theory until I tried it and found I was actually getting much more high quality work done.
2. Be conscious of not only your actions (and focusing on the task at hand), but your thoughts, too. If you find yourself falling back on negativity, literally say “out” to those thoughts. If you’re anything like me, you might be surprised at how often this occurs.
3. If you do find yourself beginning to feel any tension or get worried, pause, take a few deep breaths, and recollect
4. Fourth, never underestimate the power of the great outdoors. This one totally took my by surprise because during my “day of presence”, I noticed that the easiest place to fully embrace the here and now was outside. When I was doing regular daily tasks (showering, brushing my teeth, reading, writing, etc.) inside, it was very very difficult for me to concentrate on what I was doing. But outside, my senses were heightened. I would see the dancing leaves on trees, feel the wind on my skin, and it seemed as if all sounds were electric and there was constant beauty in my surroundings. Put simply, when outside it is difficult to focus upon anything but the present moment.
At around this same time, SuperForester Diego Stocco had a similar experience of absorption in nature and presence during events that as he put it, were “out of [his] control”. Being the artist that he is, he proceeded immediately by capturing it in a video he calls “Wind Light Trees and Piano” and has agreed to tag team this post with me by writing a bit about what the experience was like that afternoon, what his constant work with nature has taught him, and consequently, how nature helps illustrate the beauty of presence.
Take it away, Diego!
Right before I recorded “Wind Light Trees and Piano”, I heard the wind and the wind chimes, and the trees and everything else moving, I knew it was happening right there and if I wanted to live that moment, I had to jump out of the house and record it!
I learned to really appreciate these random and uncontrollable moments because they give me an opportunity to be more reactive, when I recorded “Wind Light Trees and Piano” I couldn’t expect having the same gust of wind happening twice exactly the same, so I had to be ready and focused if I wanted to record that moment. I extend this principle also to when I’m playing my custom built instruments, improvisation is a big part of what I do.
Essentially, this brings us to the fifth major thing presence teaches us, and that is…
5. Be reactive.Moments like the one depicted in “Wind Light Trees and Piano” happen spontaneously, like a musical movement we didn’t expect. And with the beauty of nature around to inspire us, act upon those inspirations, and create something.
And there you have it, SuperForesters. Four tips on how to be present and the big tip from SuperForester Diego on what to do with that presence.
I’m definitely nowhere near a high level of being able to constantly “live in the moment” but when it comes to presence, perhaps that’s the point. Maybe it’s something that has to be practiced more than it is “perfected”. In any case, I look forward to continuing the journey.
With much love and appreciation,
SuperForester Carla (and SuperForester Diego!)
P.S. Much gratitude goes out to Diego for not only co-writing this post with me, but for constantly creating astounding sources of inspiration. Thank You!