Chapter 5, part 12, Slow the F#$k Down!

The last blog I wrote was about how senseless it is to rush all day just so that you can get home to relax for a 1 hour yoga session. Presence belongs in the now otherwise you are spending 23 hours a day of your life waiting for that yoga class on the odd chance that you’re not too tired. Planned presence is not presence. It’s the opposite of presence.

There was a story I heard a long time ago about rushing. It had to do with a bunch of college students that finished one class and had to run across a garden to get from one building to the other. This was so they could get to the next class on time. One day there was an experiment being played on these students. It involved an actor who pretended to be homeless and have a heart attack in the garden whilst the students were going between classes. They watched to see who stopped and who didn’t.

The results from the above experiment came back pretty clear. Those that stopped weren’t necessarily the most empathetic or best trained to handle the situation. No, most of those that stopped were the ones that weren’t rushing between buildings.

I am sure there have been moments in your life where you wish you would have aided someone, although you decided not to help because you were too busy or you were running too late. This is selective focus and we all do it. It is therefore reasonable to say that when we are rushing we are less likely to be kind, have patience for others and be tolerable. It also means that we are more prone to be frustrated and to make mistakes whilst not being in the mind-frame to be mindful, present or relaxed.

So slow the F#$k down! Your heart, your body and your blood pressure will thank you for it. Furthermore you may actually enjoy life rather than seeing it pass you by. It’s that worth slowing down for?

Slow Down Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 11, Rushing home to be present doesn’t make sense

In life we are always running from A to B. Our mind thinks that if we work really hard in the present moment eventually there will be a time when we can relax and enjoy ourselves. Of course, most times we are so exhausted from rushing around that we end up simply watching Netflix. And yes, this is enjoyable and relaxing yet it is not the type of rest our mind requires, nor is it as productive as many of us wish to be.

Not that long ago I remember trying to rush through my day to get home. Rush to work, rush at work, talk to people on Facebook during the lunch break, pay bills whilst waiting for the kettle to boil in the afternoon, rush through traffic to get back home before finally getting through my front door where I could finally relax and be present by doing yoga for 10 minutes.

I am sure you have done something similar. You thought (if only subconsciously) let’s get through this week to get to the party this weekend, or, let’s work double as hard so we can finish early, and possibly, let’s just put our head down and work until our holiday in six months. We all do it and many of us end the day by cracking open a beer, opening a wine, and as stated above, watching TV.  And when you think about it, are you really going to ignore the next 6 months to get to your holiday?

The problem with the above is that we have it all back to front (in my opinion). As per the example about my life, I was focused on getting home all day (not being present) which inclusive of driving to and from work meant that I spent 10 hours of rushing, stressing and being frustrated to try to have 10 minutes of peace and quiet. WTF? Furthermore, many of those days I couldn’t even find that 10 minutes as someone would drop by, I had projects to work on or someone gave me a call. So how does this make any sense? Well, it doesn’t! Yet it is what society has taught us to do. No wonder we are all grumpy…

The only true presence is in the now. We can’t plan presence, we just do it. We don’t need to be at a retreat nor do we have to meditate or do yoga, we just focus on what is in front of us and attempt to move flowing thoughts away when they come up. Being present means that there is no need to be frustrated as we don’t need to be anywhere else but in the now. There is no rush therefore there is no stress. We don’t need to worry about achieving things because being content in the now is not reliant on having things completed or being somewhere else later. Where we are is where we are meant to be and we know this for a fact because we are already there.

If we always wait for the future we never live the present. That’s my basic point here. We all (I do this as well even though I know better) say we can’t wait for the weekend or thank heavens it’s 5pm yet this is the trap.

My recommendation is to bring yourself into the present. For most of us our present is not taxing. Even work which appears stressful is only stressful because of the deadlines that others place on us or the deadlines/importance we place on ourselves. Remember, stress, although an important feeling to recognise, does not help us achieve our goal any faster. Although it is important to acknowledge stress (and any emotion/feelings we have) we can then take its message and let it go. We will then be more productive in our workload because our emotions and feelings aren’t creating barriers for us to work through. And if you believe that stressing helps you get through the day more efficiently and faster then please enjoy the heart attack, high blood pressure, frustration and anger that comes along with it. Sorry, but it’s true.

So once again, please don’t fall into the trap. A yoga or meditation retreat is a great chance to focus the mind yet if you can’t bring that dedication back to the 9 to 5 world I believe you should have spent your time on a beach drinking pina-coladas instead, mainly because it’s more fun. Practicing being present during work and throughout each day brings peace to the now. There are no emotions that exist at work except the ones that you have created through your own narrative. That’s why there is an array of different attitudes in most work places as each person sees the world differently. Being present aids you in seeing it for what it really is.

P.S Some workplaces are really s#$t. At times, yes, taking action to remove yourself can just be as important as changing your psychology around your workplace.

Don't Rush Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 10, Why does one become present?

I have to stress how life changing and instrumental the topic of presence actually is. I know it appears like I have answered this though I haven’t even come close. Today I will show you how presence is just the beginning of a greater journey for those seeking answers about themselves.

As discussed, being present is not about avoiding your thoughts. Instead, you are calming your mind so that when your thoughts come back you are in a better emotional place to handle/deal or work through them. This is the power of being present (as I see it) and I write this because I wish someone explained it to me this way when I was looking for an outlet during my deepest depression, which remained consistent for over 20 years of my life.

Anyone who suffers from depression, anxiety, suppression, feels lost, sad and/or has a tormented past knows that we can’t turn these issues/emotions off like a light switch. This being said, I believe that with the right information and guidance we can work our way through our problems.

I am splitting chapters (due to the level of importance I believe each topic holds) into key areas such as ‘the ego and the observer’, ‘self-love’ and ‘acceptance’. For this reason I can’t go in-depth into them now, but, I will go through how they link directly to presence. So here we go…

Although external factors beyond our own body and mind (such as daily life) may affect us emotionally, it is how we process these experiences that create the story we have written about our lives. It’s a story that we have designed through the collection of our experiences and our egotistical need to try to learn and collate this information. We then narrate our lives with whatever narrative we have created for ourselves. What’s interesting is that out of a whole life of experiences it is usually only certain key points (a couple of moments) that we have created this narrative with. From there, we have then sought after justification to support this narrative because we want to feel justified that the story we have created for ourselves is correct, otherwise, we will lose one of the most important things we have, our identity.

I have never really been one to look into architypes. I know that there is some satisfaction with reading definitions about your identity, but, I fear that a person might then accept the good and bad about being that architype and no longer try to better themselves. This speaks a lot about society. What I am personally trying to say here is that the identity that we created for ourselves is not one that we have to hold onto. We can change it simply by changing how we perceive our life.

So why do we start any process of healing with presence? Let’s break the process down.

1. We bring ourselves back to presence as much as possible (as per the prior chapter) so that we can calm the brain. By calming our brain we not only think clearer though we also become less controlled by our emotions. When less controlled by our emotions we begin to stop reacting to things around us and look at life from a clearer point of view.

2. The above ‘clearer point of view’ is what is called ‘the third person perspective’. This perspective is about looking at life without being manipulated by our emotions that could influence our viewpoint. Without the presence of an overactive ego (which may be tied with self-loathing, pity, anger or fear) we can now make informative decisions in our life without being controlled by our more primal instincts.

3. Continuing with the above, imagine how not being driven by our emotions can affect daily life. With a clear head the mind ends up questioning why emotions have risen rather than those emotions taking control of our actions. The question of ‘why is this hear or what am I doing?’ is then a rabbit hole which takes people into their past to where they believe the emotion first latched onto certain experiences. This happens naturally.

4. Following from the above again, once we find out what drives us and where our beliefs begun (what event from our past started this belief system or emotional reaction) we can then choose to release this emotion from the situation. We are then not only releasing ourselves from emotional connections we are also beginning to define and change our own character.

5. Whist working through the above ‘acceptance’ is something that commonly comes up. Acceptance of oneself comes by seeing that there is no point in being irritated about being who we are. As we are already this person there is no benefit of any extra form of discomfort. We got the message and now we can move on. Although we may want to change ourselves in the future we no longer need to be driven by pain. We can change by simply making the decision to do so. This type of higher acceptance then coincides with self-love.

6. Self-love is walking that fine line between who you are, who you believe you are, who you were and who you want to be. Choices in your life are made without interference from past or future fears, worries or doubts. In many ways self-love is not only about connecting with yourself though also being at peace with the world around you, and this includes being at peace with death.

The above is part of what I will be explaining in the future. I thought it was important to show the trajectory of these blogs so that you can understand why ‘presence’ is much more than just being ‘at one with yourself’. Presence is not a moment of peace, it can also lead to a different way of looking at the world entirely.

I’ll leave you with this. A while back I had an awakening. It was not an escape from depression like I had wished but rather a chance to walk beside it. Over years of ripping away the surface of this depression I was able to work through it, piece by piece. I now say that I am not depressed yet I acknowledge that it is still a part of me. This part of me is something that I accept and use to remind myself how lucky I am to be alive. The above process is how I personally managed to get to where I am today, and since, I have read many books of people that have undergone similar processes. For this reason, for those who want to make a change in their life, I believe that this is ‘one of’ the great paths.


Prenence caught Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 9. Let’s stop stuffing around. How does one become present?

The moment that you catch yourself not focusing on the present is the moment that you are present. But, the moment you realise you are present you are suddenly not because you thought about it.

I kind of want to leave that first sentence and not add anything else but I guess I should explain the purpose of it. I have been waffling on for some time now about presence yet I haven’t really nailed it for you. I hope to do it during this blog. If you are reading this then get ready for what often eludes writers such as myself. The point! This (and the following blogs) will be the more important ones within this chapter if you really want to understand why presence is, what people say, key for those who are unhappy or lost in life.

Okay, so let’s backtrack for a second. I discussed earlier that if you meditate it calms down the mind yet it does much more than that. It also lowers your heart beat, slows the blood that is moving around your body, plus, it eases tension within your muscles. The side-affect from such a dramatic change to the body is that it also calms intensive emotions and therefore makes you think clearly and rationally. It’s as simple as that. This is why people meditate and this is why it helps you be present, yet what if you are not a meditator?

The other option I gave was to stop and do 3 large breaths. The simple process consists of letting the air out slowly, allowing your shoulders to drop and then clearing your mind all within these breaths. If done properly, this can also ease the mind. It won’t do it to the full extent of meditation (mainly because it only lasts 30 seconds) though at least it’s better than nothing.

Meditation and slowing your breaths help achieve presence via limiting your access to thoughts about the past and/or future. When these thoughts stop for long enough the emotions that are tied to them should also fade, leaving you no longer at the whim of your fears and traumas.

This is where you might say SHUT UP ABOUT MEDITATION! You promised to just talk about presence!

Okay, okay, easy cowboy.

The unfortunate conflict with being present is that you can’t try to be present, it either is or isn’t. As Yoda said ‘do or do not, there is no try’. Being present is simply a state of being. So how does one achieve this state if we are not allowed to try to be in this state? That’s a good question.

We see things before us all the time yet never really look at them deeply and appreciate them. Many people talk about trees as being a great way of appreciating something simple, yet it can also be done with food, a chair, art or a dry wall. It doesn’t matter what it is that you stare at as it works best on something that you personally appreciate. When you do find something you appreciate it’s not about the object itself but instead seeing beyond it by respecting the significance of the fact that it exists. You may have heard of this being done with a candle and flame. The idea is that you stare at the flame and eventually you see beyond it and admire the significance of the fact that it exists. This is because you also realise that the flame is something you can’t physically hold. We went over this with the question ‘if a tree falls in the woods would it make a sound?’ The point is not to just see the world but to realise the amazing fact that it exists in the first place.  Yet seeing it might be a confusing way of explaining this sensation… Let’s try something else.

Your five senses can help you appreciate a single moment. It can be the feeling of water over your body, the touch of velvet, the smell of lavender, the taste of chocolate or a coffee, the sound of a symphony or even a car engine. It doesn’t have to be ‘beautiful’ it just has to be what you appreciate, as well as something that takes you away from memories or feelings of past and future. Your appreciation doesn’t have to last long either as one second is enough to bring you to the present moment.

Once you find out your main anchors (like the ones listed above) that bring you to the present moment it is then important to acknowledge them when they occur, and to try to bring that presence into your life as often as possible. You become aware that this is going well when you start appreciating these moments of presence naturally and it makes you smile. This is because the moment you start appreciating presence this means that other thoughts and emotions have left you for the time being. Eventually, when you do this enough, your mind gets addicted to this sensation and eventually your subconscious brings you to this state without effort. At least that’s the theory.

If presence is a new thing for you and you do want to explore this path I recommend finding out multiple anchors and sitting within them for a few extra seconds each day. So yea, stare at a tree for a while, sit by a stream, stare out the window, focus on the sensation of eating and don’t just throw that coffee down your throat each morning, instead, stop and appreciate each sip you take, or at least the first one! I know your rushing but you can at least do this for 2 seconds can’t you?

Just focusing on one sip of your coffee each day can bring that sensation of presence to you repetitively over time. The texture, the warmth and that sensation that may come over you when you first have it is something that brings you to centre.  And if you repeat this focus day after day, over and over again, eventually your mind, as stated above, will bring you there repetitively.

Of course, like most things, the above is just one step to presence. There is a lot more to it than this which I will continue to try to tackle through the following blogs.

Do or do not Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman