I’ve written before about how the labels we assign impact our view of a situation; even our emotions. This morning, I was trying to take a quiet moment to prepare for teaching yoga today. Josh had been playing alone with his toys on the porch and he approached me with a ball, throwing it at me with the sheer exuberance of a toddler, asking me to play with him. Without missing a beat, I said to myself, “this child is wearing me out.” But then I did something else. I noticed the label (and trust me, I resort to this very same six-word statement more than I care to admit) that I had given to the moment. Moreover, I recognized that by making this statement to myself, I was locking myself out of the moment completely–or at least out of accessing the joy of the moment. Then I thought, how about instead I say to myself, “this child is making me more youthful” or “this child is giving me reason to move and experience the joy of this moment.” I may have preferred a quiet moment to prepare for yoga, but life sort of gives you want you need. And, of course, this noticing gave me the theme for my yoga class today.
I’ve also been observing this same labeling tendency in my daughter. Yesterday, she called me on the phone, bubbling over with enthusiasm about some impromptu theater production she’d taken part in that ended up in the tunnels or catacombs under the chapel on her campus. I really didn’t understand what she was talking about, but I loved hearing the excitement in her voice. And I’ve heard her talk so many times about the great friends she’s made at college or her fantastic professors (all on a first name basis at her college). But occasionally, I get the unhappy Sunday afternoon phone call where she tells me, “I guess I just don’t like college.” I invite her to move beyond this statement to what specific aspect of college she is currently not enjoying. I remind her of all the things I know she likes about college. I then tell her, “by assigning this label, you are keeping yourself from the underlying message of the moment.” Perhaps it is about not leaving the most difficult homework until Sunday afternoon. Or perhaps it is about accepting that sometimes, homework will win out over social events and vice versa. And it is hard to find that balance, but, I tell her, “you will be struggling to find that balance all of your life, so why not start here.” Once she can break through the label “I don’t like college” and really discover what is causing her resistance to the present moment, she can often soften around the resistance and find her way to some sort of acceptance.
The present moment offers spaciousness; a place to open to the life unfolding around us. Over the next day or two, try to notice any labels you assign that might be preventing you from fully accessing the present moment. The present moment is your life and it is happening right now. Go ahead and put down the routine labels. Enter your now.