Opening to Present Moment Awareness

Xinalani Cove
Preparing, perfecting, learning, improving, planning,
rehearsing, reviewing, remembering, practicing…

This is the voice of my habitual inner landscape when I get quiet and listen. The voice of my ego personality.

It’s amazing, isn’t it, that in the midst of such wild beauty,
my mind continues this chatter?

My Enneagram One ego is constantly trying to make sure I do things right, aligned, good. If I do, then all will be OK—I’ll say the right things, support my clients and students in the right way, do my spiritual practice in the right way so that I develop in the right way…I think you get the drift!

I had the chance to witness this nearly constant stream of thoughts during the silent SHE Retreat led by Sara Avant Stover at a beautiful ocean/jungle resort the first week of November. Being in silence from after opening circle on the first night until after closing circle 6 days later really highlighted the chatter in my mind.

Journaling at barI knew my mind was busy. I’ve been meditating daily for about 10 years. And I’ve been to shorter silent retreats before. I knew, intellectually, that my thoughts were keeping my ego personality going. I had been told this many times. I have studied it. I have inquired about it. I have taught it. I thought I understood it—and I did, on a certain level…

But this was different.

The retreat schedule, which included five daily sessions of meditation along with the silence, really invited me into a deeper experience of my mind’s inner workings. What I previously “knew,” I learned more truly by living it, by experiencing it in the moment—over and over and over again.

This integration of my knowing into my being—into body, heart, mind, and soul—continues to affect me much more deeply than just the intellectual knowledge that it is so. Even as I attempt to capture this insight in words right now, I am touched again by the profundity of the embodied realization. I tear up, my heart feels touched. Gratitude and Love arise.

Sara introduced a new word for this process that really stuck a chord with me: “selfing.” My nearly-constant stream of thoughts creates a sense of self, with a small “s.” My ego personality, especially through the function of the mind, thinks that it needs to create a sense of “me-ness.” That nothing will be here—and as a One, certainly that nothing will get done right—if it does not perform this all-important job of producing a constant stream of thoughts to remind me of what to do, how to behave, etc.

It most emphatically does NOT trust that there is a capital “S” Self that is always here supporting and guiding me, connecting and attuning me, embodying and invigorating me. It does NOT want to let go of thoughts for fear that nothing will be there to catch me—to guide, connect, and embody me. It is deathly afraid of the vast unknown on the other side of thoughts, on the other side of self.

view from spa

When I first started meditating, I was so invested in believing this inner chatter that I couldn’t sit without having a to-do list next to me, in which I jotted little reminders to myself. Otherwise, my “self” would simply not let go. This allowed me a moment of space, knowing that I wouldn’t forget what my mind just came up with—I could always look at my list later…That’s how compelling these thoughts can feel.

Now, as thoughts arise, I practice noting or labeling them. If I catch myself thinking about what words to say to a client, I might label it “preparing” and then return to my anchor of concentration. If I’m thinking about how to get just the right teaching sequence, “perfecting” or “improving.” (As an Enneagram One, almost any of my thoughts boil down, at their root, to “practicing.”) Noting stops the thought for a moment as I separate my sense of self from this mental activity and gives me another place to put my attention. My Self witnesses and labels the machinations of my self “selfing.”

Through this process on retreat, we brought our meditative, silent awareness to our eating, to our walking, to our beach adventures, to our self-care…This cultivated a sense of present-moment awareness that was so beautiful and fulfilling!

As I walked mindfully during my day, a wave of deep connection between my embodied, heartful, aware Self and the ground under my feet or the ocean waves crashing on the shore or the nourishing food placed before me pulsated through me, rooting me in the present moment, momentarily empty of thoughts, and filled with radiant, open Presence, which often included gratitude.

Xinalani from boat

So, here I am, back home. That strong, communal holding container for practice is dissolved, and it is now mine to create—with community support, but even more importantly, by aligning with Self to create the space and the practice time to lovingly be with all that is arising in the moment.

My meditation, conscious embodiment, and journaling practice times are even more cherished in this busy workaday life. And I find myself consciously choosing to live my life, not just rush from one to-do list item to the next, making moment-by-moment choices that align my life with that radiant openness. I feel more grounded, connected, and alive—more open to life.

katy lying down in meditation cabin-2

What goes on in your mind when you get quiet?
Do you recognize repetitive thoughts that keep you feeling like “you”?
How do you cultivate connection to a deeper sense of Self?

I’d LOVE to support you in this process of coming home to yourself!

  • Consider signing up for a free Discovery Session to explore how my Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching might support you.
  • Join Tea Time with Katy, Winter & Spring Practice Series starting January 14th, my new virtual group practice program to align your life around practicing presence, a perfect gift for yourself to begin the New Year aligning your life around what really matters!

**Pictures by food stylist Shellie Anderson, one of the amazing women on retreat.



Author: Katy Taylor

I am a regular person, like you. I am an earth lover, a seeker, a singer, a gardener, a partner and friend. I have attended a lot of trainings and continue to do my work to grow and deepen and become a more loving person. If you're interested, you can read more about me on the About page.

8 thoughts on “Opening to Present Moment Awareness”

  1. Katy, I love this phrase you came up with, “…rooting me in the present moment, momentarily empty of thoughts, and filled with radiant, open Presence…” That really struck a chord with me!


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