Written by Alison Bell
Today we hear a lot about being in the present moment and finding “flow”. Stop the mind from being in the future, or reflecting on the past, and just be with what you are doing right here, right now, and do that one thing whole heartedly. Combine this with doing something you love and are naturally good at, and BOOM, you have your life purpose and effortless living right there! Simple right? Hmmmmmm….
I must say I personally struggle with this! I believe the only time I felt completely present and “in the zone” was when I was playing a competitive tennis match. Complete and utter bliss with muscle memory taking over. I was unaware of being in my body, but was instead observing from above. It was like I didn’t exist. Every inch of the body in a sense of heightened awareness. I can feel the blood coursing through my veins right through to the fingertips. I can feel the vibrations up the arm as racquet connects with ball. Every action and movement is in slow-motion. Every sound is a precise pitch and crystal clear, vibrating through my ear drum, telling me a story. Everything I see is tunnelled and focused with pure clarity. There is no peripheral vision. There is nothing but the tennis court and the ball. I can see where the ball is going once it leaves the strings before it goes there. I direct it with my mind and the body is just the tool. For those few seconds that each point is in progress, I am in a different realm, yet more present than at any other moment. I am totally connected with the ground, the air, the wind, the sun, with my body, it’s all fluid and pure energy.
But even then, during these blissful tennis experiences, there were times when all I was concerned about was the future. The past. The “what ifs“. What would happen if I served a double fault? What would happen if I lost the next point? I hit my backhand into the net on that last point, I better not do that again… Yup, you guessed it, flow be gone and I would lose the point, the game, the match.
I have searched longingly over the past 20 years for that same heightened state of consciousness that I achieved in tennis, mostly to no avail. Sure, there have been small snippets along the way as I’m sure everyone has felt, but nothing nearly as magical, nor long lasting, as those experienced during my tennis career. They were accidental rather than purposeful. I have tried meditation (so many varieties I have lost count). I have attempted yoga and made many laugh with my complete inability to hold any pose. I immersed myself in all varieties of sport… swimming, running, cycling, mountain biking, surfing, lifting weights, triathlons, table tennis, touch football, soccer, rock climbing, kickboxing, netball, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, boxing… desperately searching for the missing link and ultimate high of presence. Nothing came close. That was until earlier this week.
I had the pleasure of driving from Toowoomba to Sydney last Monday, and I can safely say I spent 8 out of the 10 hours in complete and utter flow. Not quite the place I expected to experience the sensation!! Is the universe sending me a message to become a truck driver? Is that my life purpose?
I have very little recollection of the drive home. Time did not exist. I only noticed that time had passed due to the sunburnt orange that suddenly appeared on the horizon impacting my vision. Time passed in some blissful state with car karaoke, starring none other than me, accompanied by some spectacular steering wheel drum solos! I was truly a musical LEGEND! But I digress…..
Each time my mind wandered into analysis of the week gone by to review and judge, it was zipped right back into the existing moment. Back to feeling an energy in my solar plexus, right in my core. To sense it radiate outwards. It coursed through my nervous system. Tingling. My body abuzz with life, energy and an acute sense of self and awareness. By this stage you may be wondering what whacky tobacky I had consumed, or perhaps question the mushrooms I had eaten for breakfast! Stay with me here.
Each time my mind touched on the day or week ahead for just a microsecond, and fear snuck in, it somehow magically popped back into the present moment. Back to the sensation of the steering wheel under my hand, the bouncing suspension of the van driving over remote county roads. My senses expanded and an intense feeling of calm was upon me. Instead of the surroundings taking a back seat to the chatter and fear in my head, my head took a back seat to my surroundings and the lightness of my body.
I could feel an intense negative energy and distress as we passed cattle trucks and an abattoir that I had sensed before seeing it. There was magic in an eagle that circled and swooped in front of the car to land on roadkill and feed…. disturbing yet naturally beautiful. There were stunted dead trees standing in shallow pools of water with small ripples disturbing the perfect reflection of the sun in water. Everything appeared to exist with such a high standard of aesthetic pleasure. Nature stood out in every unique colour, shape and movement. Sound vibrated through my chest and filtered across my body, in my blood.
There was a complete blankness in my head. No need for food (unheard of!). No fatigue. No fear. Just pure joy. Pure happiness. Pure contentment. Pure beauty. A unique kind of emptiness that didn’t require filling.
This brings the question, how did I come into this sensation? Why did it come at this point in time? How can I achieve this again?
The answer? I have NO idea!!! (You were waiting for some wise words to come forth at this point weren’t you!)
One thing I do know is that this “zone” or “ flow” comes about for everyone at different times in different ways. It is certainly there for all of us to access. Being older, it can be hard to come at things with a beginners mind set. I had to remove my past successes. I was so tied up in those that I forgot how to grow. Success can sometimes be a cage, and I needed to step out of the way people saw me, and the way I saw myself. Here I am back at the beginning again, even though I’m a fully fledged adult. I had to start working on things for pure fun, and every now and then you stumble upon a nugget. Dig it up and use it to your advantage. Play. Have fun with what is in front of you with childlike curiosity. I believe this is how I came into complete presence.
I questioned everything on the drive, which enabled me to see more and more. Why did the eagle circle before swooping? Why does he have such a large wingspan? How did he move through the air without beating his wings? How did he glide so far? How did he manage to swoop and not hit the car? Did he see or smell the roadkill that was to be his meal? Was it his meal or just a snack? Was he a he or a she? A ridiculous number of questions in a second, of which no answers were required, just my observation and a big goofy grin on my face before returning to car karaoke.
As humans we are looking at each other like strangers, and are living in chaotic times because of this. A full life is acknowledging all parts of people and the world we are living in. If we only look at one part, we go mad. So get a little curious about what you see in this very moment, in your surroundings, in the person in front of you, in your self, and see if you can tap into a little presence.
It appears the lesson for me is truck driving school....... here I come!Happy Health Guts,
or should I say happy empty minds!