The more I live in the present moment, the more I realize how much more intimate I have become with life. What exactly do I mean by this? I mean that I smile at strangers, I pay attention to the little things, I notice more sunsets and blue skies, I hear the birds chirping more clearly, I see old paint chipping away as beauty. These are just a few examples.
I think that your level of joy in life is directly related to how intimate you are with it. If you are cut off, disconnected and numb, you’re most likely not going to feel much joy. If your mind is constantly full of chatter, you won’t be living in the present, you won’t be practicing intimacy with life. In the same way, if you’re thinking about the future all the time, you won’t be recognizing the beauty happening right here and now, before your eyes. When is the last time you felt your feet and pressure on your soles as you walked along the sidewalk? When is the last time you felt the fresh air, admired the beautiful blue sky and saw the beauty in the trees lining your street? Any answer other than today I think is too long.
One way that I’ve realized greater intimacy with life has been carrying a digital camera with me wherever I go. I recently developed this habit and anytime I’m walking (I walk a few miles at least daily) and I see something I find interesting, I turn my camera on and take a picture of it. I make sure the batteries are fully charged before I leave so I don’t have to worry about seeing something strikingly beautiful and I can’t take a photo of it. What this has done for me is helped me recognize beauty in things I never would have noticed otherwise. I might see some peeling paint on an old wall and photograph it. I might take a picture of an old abandoned building and start to wonder what the story was behind it. I might see an interesting flower or two trees tangled together and be inspired by them. Whatever it is, chances are I wouldn’t have become as intimate, as close to these things if I wouldn’t have been taking their photo. I’m not saying you can’t do this without a camera, I’m just saying that this has been a great tool for me in realizing more of a wonder and appreciation for the world I live in.
Another tool that has brought me closer to and more in tune with life is meditation. When I just let my thoughts go and am not trying to make a story or talk about things in my mind, I’m able to see things as they are. I can see a tree and not have to name it, I can see a bird and really see it, I can see the sky and see that it is much more than the word sky in my mind, I experience it as it is. When you see things instead of thinking about them, you experience them as they are, and life is experienced authentically.
Finally, the biggest way I’ve become more intimate with life is I’ve stopped trying to multi-task. I no longer try to read my email while listening to voice messages and eating my breakfast. I don’t try to work-out, watch tv and vacuum the ceiling. I also haven’t washed the car while reading the newspaper on the treadmill lately. I take things as they come, and not only do I realize greater intimacy and a connection with what I’m doing, I’ve become better at everything I do. When I’m only focused on reading my email and nothing else, I retain information better. When I’m working out and my mind is only focused on the muscles I’m working, I get a better workout. The benefits of only focusing on one thing at a time, to me, are far greater than any time I’ve multi-tasked, having the illusion I’m getting more done when I’m really just spinning my wheels.
I hope you can see how much your intimacy with life can change your quality of life. If you have any other ideas on how to achieve greater intimacy, please share your comments with us.