The Gift of Presence

Modern Mindfulness


A true masterpiece of spiritual literature, it has taken me numerous attempts to make it past Chapter 8 of Paramahansa Yoganada’s, Autobiography of a Yogi. Both dense and linguistically complex; it often takes a few minutes to read one single page. I do not remember when or where I was introduced to the bright-orange, four-hundred and forty-eight page book, I simply know I ordered my copy from Amazon approximately three or four years ago. 

Since then, I have toted the robust book all over Chicago, on my move to California, and on my trips to Istanbul and Costa Rica. Up until recently, space nor place helped, I was unable to get past Chapter 8.  At the end of May, I tried again and I am excited to say, I am currently reading Chapter 24. 

As I was discussing my journey reading Autobiography of a Yogi with my friend and her boyfriend, he said something that precipitously shifted my perception of the book, “maybe he wrote it like that because he does not want you to read it fast.” He was referring to Paramanhansa’s intricately detailed plot and highly-intelligent word selections that cause me to read and re-read multiple sentences, in every chapter. 

My inability to plow through the book has left me feeling defeated, inadequate. It is almost as if I am reading the book as an attempted conquest; a battle I often see myself loosing. Nevertheless, before I had the conversation with my friends, I subconsciously knew the book was positively effecting me. I was simply too fixated on the time it was taking me to read it to appreciate what was happening. 

For years, I have sped through life, often neglecting the moment I am in, in pursuit of “what’s next”. Therefore, it’s been baffling to witness myself embrace practices of mindfulness. To stay focused while I drive, I’ve made playlists available offline and I turn my phone on airplane mode to avoid distractions. Further, I have reconnected with the power of prayer. Even though I may not identify with an organized religion, I am mindful of my connection to a higher prayer and I am now taking the time to express gratitude and to ask for guidance. 

Through reading Paramahansa’s story, I am learning to slow down, to experience life and its magic. I am learning to to find spirit and enlightenment where I am right now, instead of waiting for my next triumph or adventure. Today, I am making small decisions that support my big picture, the highest vibrational version of myself, and letting go the outcomes and everything else.

Most importantly, I am learning it’s essential to aspire to grow and to change but it’s paramount I know the peace and prosperity I am seeking is available right now. It's truly my greatest gift, the present moment.