Eat, Pray, Be Present

“The other problem with all this swinging through the vines of thought is that you are never where you are. You are always digging in the past or poking at the future, but rarely do you rest in this moment. It’s something like the habit of my dear friend Susan, who – whenever she sees a beautiful place – exclaims in near panic, ‘It’s so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!’ and it takes all of my persuasive powers to try and convince her that she is already here.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

*

As I was stumbling my way through the India section of Eat Pray Love (yes, I’ll admit I’m having trouble getting through some of the meditation chapters), I found myself transfixed by the above passage. To give readers some background about this book, here is my publisher-style synopsis: After a tumultuous divorce and a crushing depression, author Elizabeth Gilbert travels to Italy, India and Indonesia to experience indulgence, spirituality and balance.

While staying at an ashram in India, Gilbert struggles to slow down her mind and learn how to meditate. One of her biggest problems always seems to be her inability to focus on the task at hand; in other words, her inability to live in the present. In addition, she talks about how this hinders her relationship with a higher power.

Although I’m not a particularly spiritual person, I can completely relate to Gilbert and appreciate her difficulty in stopping to smell the roses. In our fast-paced world, we’re often looking to see what’s next. We find ourselves thinking about our weekend plans in the middle of class, making our mental to-do lists during club meetings and figuring out the best ways to multi-task. With a million things to do at once, I am constantlyΒ multi-tasking, and although this definitely helps my time management, it also means my life moves at top speed.

Sometimes I jokingly blame it on some undiagnosed case of ADD, but in the time since I logged onto WordPress and started writing this entry, I have also planned out two Freshman 15 articles and a Friday Five, read a few more chapters of Eat Pray Love, started pre-ordering my Harry Potter tickets and worked on my psychology notes. I’m not alone in this — in fact, many of us tend to get bored easily because we can’t seem to stay present. Why else would websites like StumbleUpon be so popular?

We’re constantly reminiscing about the past, contemplating the future and picturing other places we could be, instead of just living in the moment and experiencing everything as it comes to us. Gilbert’s solution to this problem is meditation, but for those of us who don’t go to yoga every week or have access to Sanskrit prayers, it is important for us to at least stop and think about what we’re doing. Breathe a little. Capture your surroundings with the five senses and don’t think so much about that new top you want to get or the exam you just took. Life will seem more meaningful and a little less monotonous if you take the time to really be present.

*

Extra, Extra: I would like to welcome two of my real life friends to the blogosphere, Kalehli of Tilting at Windmills and Jessie of Simple Sophistication. They are awesome people who started their blogs in the past week, so go check out their stuff (as well as some of the other amazing links on the side of my home page)!

4 thoughts on “Eat, Pray, Be Present

  1. gabriellan says:

    This is so true. I catch myself being “absent” a lot. When I’m with my family or friends or just relaxing, I’m constantly thinking about the things I need to do, the things I want to do, or – as crazy as it sounds – planning the next time to hang with my family! The times when I give myself a little kick and remember to focus on the moment are always the ones that are the best.

    • Valerie says:

      I agree with you 100 percent! This is definitely something I need to work on, but I think it’s a worthwhile skill to have πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for commenting!

  2. Kalehli says:

    I know exactly what you mean! I’m always running in circles and StumbleUpon is a favorite distraction… although it’s gotten to the point where I’m even bored with that! Focus is a HUGE problem for me and I’m constantly joking that I must have ADD or something! Also… I’m super excited for Harry Potter!!!!! And thank you soo much for your shout out! That’s super sweet!

    • Valerie says:

      I’ve read all sorts of articles about how TV and the Internet have made us all a little ADD… we have the attention span of a goldfish, according to Sally Hogshead (advertising guru), so it’s no wonder we have trouble staying in the moment.

      You are more than welcome! πŸ™‚ I love seeing my friends’ work and I am very excited to start reading your blog!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s