In The Power of Presence, I discussed the essence of staying present in the Now. In that I discussed, how being bound to the past, and jumping to the future and back to the past were causing us to loose the beauty of the present moment and how it was draining our vital energy. I also briefly discussed how staying present, improved my day-to-day work and productivity and overall physical and mental health. In this article, I will elaborate more on how I achieved this and give some of the examples of my own improvements in productivity and life in general, after I started practicing presence.
Practicing Presence is, in general, part of one’s overall spiritual practice. And, it is discussed mainly as such and not as means of improving material life. As I discussed in an earlier article, I do not consider the spiritual and material lives to be divorced from each other. If they are, then it will create a severe imbalance in one’s life. When Presence is practiced in a larger context, with other spiritual techniques such as prayer (bhakti ), meditation (dhyAna), breathing techniques (prAnAyAma), physical exercise or posture (Asana), it becomes very powerful. Additionally, with increased presence, these other spiritual practices deepen. That is, they augment and help each other.
Through these practices, you will start to discover the vast realm of peace within you and start to ground within yourself. You will slowly stop deriving joy or happiness from outer elements or external circumstances, but increasingly rely only the peace and joy within you. Thus, as this balance tilts inward, you will choose to do the outer things not for deriving joy, but just for the sake of doing them. It will become a joyful game to you. As your presence deepens, things just get done easily.
My Own Practice
I started my spiritual practices with vigor in 2002. Even before that time, I was still spiritual even though I was not dogmatic or very religious in a traditional sense. In early 2005, I took initiation into bAbAji’s kriyA yOga and in 2006 into tirumUlar’s Siva yOga. Initiations into these techniques was a big turning point in my life and helped integrate my spiritual self into this manifest existence. They also helped me find my part in the cosmic drama, that is this world. It was in those initiations I was introduced to practicing presence. During that time, I stumbled upon the book, The Power of Now, which enhanced my understanding of this practice.
I do my practices of Asana, prAnAyAma, dhyAna and mantra everyday. Not all of them at the same time. I do a subset of these practices on any given day. These practices bring my awareness intensely into my body and random thinking almost disappears. Since the mind becomes quiet, I am intensely present in the “now.” Then, throughout the day, I consciously keep my awareness on my breath, so that my mind does not start wandering away from the present moment. The more I did my practices, the easier it becomes to enter the state of presence.
Benefits During the Work Day
In mid-2005, I joined my present employment as Senior Staff Scientist. Since it was a start up company my responsibilities included everything—research, prototyping, the full software life cycle of requirements gathering, design through development. By being present, I was able to accomplish all the work in half the time it would otherwise take. That I have been working from home immensely helped me in this endeavor.
As I mentioned in the last section, before I start my work day, I perform my daily spiritual practices. I keep my attention on my breath while working during the day. I plan my tasks while in that state of presence. I list out all the tasks that need to be done. Pick one task and work on it with my awareness partially on my breath which anchors me in my body. The work gets done automatically as if a deeper intelligence starts working on that task. Ideas just flow through me. I am able to produce high quality work with very few bugs. Even when bugs are reported in the software I have written, I immediately know where the bug is and how to fix it. I would fix them in matter of minutes much to my (and my manager’s 🙂 ) astonishment. At the end of the day, when I look at the amount of work done, it amazes me. This kind of became a pleasant game for me to play everyday.
Through these practices, I have now significantly improved my health. As far as I can remember, I have had allergies to dust and dust mites. But, now I have conquered that problem. Cramps and pains I have had reduced significantly.
These practices also helped my mental and emotional well-being. Intensity of the emotions have significantly reduced. I don’t carry those emotions in me for long as I used to. I feel lighter. I am able to forgive more easily and quickly. I do not feel guilty about my past deeds. I don’t worry much about the future.
In conclusion …
Of course, this requires constant practice. I am still evolving and improving in this practice. I can say with confidence that, since I started my spiritual practices, my work life has become much more enjoyable and much less stressed, my health has significantly improved, and I am more in touch with my body.
This may sound fantastic and unbelievable. Don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and practice it. You will experience and understand what I am talking about only through your own practice.