Sunday, October 3, 2010

Living in the Present

I was recently thinking about the books that have added to my life or improved them in some way. The first book I thought of was Practical Work on Self.
Years ago I found that my life was not what I thought it could be. I was not really living in the present and I started looking around for some information that might help me change that. That's when I came across E.J. Gold's book Practical Work on Self. It consists of 24 chapters. Each contains an exercise guaranteed to challenge you in some way.
I started meeting with friends who had all agreed to try the exercises for a week each and report our experiences in the next week's meeting. It was almost 25 years ago but I can still remember the effect of doing the first exercise.
We were to follow the movements of our bodies. As simple as that. Well, some things can be simple but not easy and have a most amazing effect.
At the time I owned a car that was a stick shift. One day I was driving home from taking my three year old daughter to day care and was watching the movements of my body as it shifted gears, accelerated, braked, turned - did all the things you do while driving. Suddenly the world shifted and I found that things were moving a lot more slowly than it seemed they should in traffic. My own movements seemed much slower though fast enough to handle the needs of driving. The sounds were much more defined, the light brighter and the colors sharper. It was as if I had not really seen them ever before. This experience lasted for a couple of hours.
After that experience I was very much interested in doing the other exercises.
It's been a long time and I still use the observation of my body well as the other exercises in Practical Work on Self as a way to bring myself into the present.
It certainly has been one of the books that has made my life a good one.