August 14th, 2009 13:31 EST
Learning to Live in the Here and Now
When people sit down to eat some say the grace others do not. If there are others around, they acknowledge their presence and put food on their plates and look around at others or smile and begin to eat. They replenish their plates from time to time and sometimes make little conversation and after finishing excuse themselves and move onto the next thing. It does not matter whether people sit on the floor or eat out of plantain leaves or expensive silver plates. It is the same the world over and occasions add their courtesies and formalities.
Eating might be a short few minute`s ritual or an elaborate game lasting two hours. People may be looking around with short bursts of attention on everything around them but scarcely pay attention on what they are eating. Attention is different from seeing. Living in the moment implies concentration on the object of thinking, feeling or doing and nothing else but that. Therefore I believe when a person has mastered to eat with attention he can bring attention on whatever he or she does. Let me relate how you can learn to live in the moment from a mundane activity as eating.
Living in the moment demands to bring your attention after grace to the food before you and become aware of people connected with the food chain " the growers, people dining with you, the cooks and servers etc. who had a role in the food before you. Attention takes in color, texture, shape and aroma of the food but can also dwell on its uncooked state and acknowledging its source.
Eating is taking a morsel of food with the fingers or spoon or a fork into the mouth, chewing and swallowing. All activities of eating could be done consciously " looking and smelling, movements that puts it in the mouth, chewing to savor its taste and recognizing it as you chew and feel the morsel as it goes down. Being attentive to each activity takes few seconds but when you chew only chew the food in your mouth and not your anger, impatience, fear, your projects and programs, ideas or anything else.
If you chew and swallow other things you cannot be attentive to what is in front of you or in your mouth. So, instead of eating your fish, cauliflower, rice or paranthas or your salad bowl people eat their past or their future or their anger or their hopes during their meal. They might have eaten many powerful emotions and hence their body and mind are not in the present. Not only they are not aware of themselves they are unaware of their immediate environment they contaminate the food and introduce diseases and become ill.
When you examine the enormity of this simple activity you cannot fail to recognize that the fish, cauliflower, rice or paranthas or your salad bowl you are eating is a miracle that has sprung from a small insignificant seed. From the seed to your mouth a lot has happened in between and contemplating those is joy and happiness. When a man is fully conscious of what his body, mind and faculties are experiencing he becomes joy and connects to its source within him and always happy and lives in the moment. Past and future simply disappear.
Rarely, people eat alone but in company of others. In many cases, they may not know others. If each one ate with that same concentration and attention to the food and to each other the satva permeating that place would accrete adding cheer, gaiety and happiness to the place.
This process cannot be successful without the cessation of monkey chatter. Opposite of monkey chatter is silence of the mind. When we are silent we understand ourselves better. We enjoy our thoughts, ideas, feelings and sensations that shape our consciousness.
In silence, we understand the beauty and joy in others and better understand what they think, feel and do which promotes superior communication and creates space for unselfish love. Can you recall the stillness and silence permeates the atmosphere in a temple, church or a guradwara or a monastery or a hermitage. With few words people living there communicate deeply. This silence is ennobling because in this, we understand our thoughts our ideas our feelings and sensations better and conquer our dependencies and inadvertent habits that go against the grain of yogis.
Sattva: is one of the three primal qualities and constitute the subtle prakriti or nature and characterized by qualities such as - confidence, joy and happiness, satisfaction, modesty, nobility, enlightenment, forgiving, contentment, disposition for faith, forgiveness, courage, renunciation, purity, compassion and the like and whose conduct is marked by these virtues are said to be wise and possess correct vision.
Yogi: Very simply a yogi (male) or a yogin (female) is someone who practices yoga in its correct spirit or in its fuller sense. Yogi/yogin is also used as a title and reserved for someone who is an advanced practitioner who has reached a high level of spiritual awakening and insight. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word "yug` which means union i.e. unites or integrates one`s consciousness with the universal consciousness.