I remember from my school days the register, or roll call, being taken every morning before class began. You were expected to answer to your name being called with “Present Miss/Sir”. Often times, I’d be busy day dreaming, looking out of the window wishing I were out there too. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy school, I did. I loved the challenges and was fiercely competitive but also easily bored with work which was too easy for me. In any case, if during daydreaming, I didn’t say “Present Sir/Miss”, this would be met with a palpable silence and then that feeling of all the faces turning to look at me with heightened interest. “Was she daring to ignore the teacher?” Was this what my fellow pupils were wondering as their necks craned round? Then I would hear the teacher’s booming voice laced with sarcasm, “Miss B_____, are you present?”
What is consciousness?:
I guess I wasn’t really consciously present in the sense implied. I was in another ‘present’ of my own making. I was sailing in my imagination, oblivious to the ‘real’ physical world all around me. When we experience the joy of this inner world of the imagination, we are actually bringing our subconscious mind to the fore, which is the same part of our mind used in the dream state. We are ‘present’ but not in the physical world, not in the world of the conscious mind ruled by our senses and restless thoughts.
This is the state I enter when I write. I take myself out of the physical world and into the different reality of my imagination. I am fully present in this world where time can seem to stand still or speed by, where tasks are completed seemingly effortlessly, where joy is felt. Call it “being in the flow”, “being fully present” or “being mindful”, it signifies a calm state of active concentration and can be highly conducive to productivity and creativity.
How to put this into practice:
Try this relaxation practice to disengage your mind from the conscious reality of logic, reason and restless thoughts and allow you to access the subconscious mind. It will take perhaps 10 minutes. Sit quietly ideally where you won’t be disturbed, feet on the floor, hands on your thighs, spine straight. Say an intention or mantra, eg. “I am calmly relaxed, ready for any task.” Take a few long, deep breaths, trying to equalise the in-breath and out-breath. As you do so, visualize a current of gentle heat rising from your feet very slowly up through the legs, your torso, the arms, chest, neck, head and face. As this warmth rises, concentrate on the muscles and will them to relax. Now, see, and feel the warmth of, this ball of white heat in the centre of your chest and watch it expand outwards as you breathe. Fill the room with this white-hot ball of light and bask in its warmth and energy. Sit quietly, slow your breathing and keep concentrating on the light and the sense of warmth and peace it brings. Imagine it expanding even more to encompass the room, then outwards into your town. Send this light out to everyone who needs its comfort and energy. Repeat your intention or mantra. You should be feeling pretty amazing by now! Open your eyes. You are ready to get started on your task!