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The Life I’m Actually Living

I’ve been going to a new yoga class almost every weekend here in Santa Monica. The sequences aren’t that different from other classes I’ve taken, but what is different is the teacher. He talks through the entire class, quoting poems by Rumi or lines from Mary Oliver. He plays incredible music mixes and lowers and raises the volume to correlate with the poses. The whole effect is really quite transporting.

One thing this teacher says often throughout each class is this one line that reverberates throughout my head for the rest of the week. He begins by encouraging us to greet our bodies as they are. He reminds us that it is Sunday morning. And then he says, This is the life I’m actually living.

This is the life I’m actually living.

It’s such a simple statement, but one that never fails to snap me into the present.

This is the life I’m actually living.

See, the thing is that I’m really good at occupying other lives in my head. Lives I think I should be living. Lives I once lived. Lives I intend to live. Lives I’m envious of, or even ones I’d never want to live. So to be reminded that this is the life I’m actually living is quite profound. Hearing this phrase always serves to fold me back into the present moment, to remind me of where I am right now. 

I find it so easy to get caught up in all the things I want my life to be. I daydream all the time about a house, a permanent home for my little family. I muse on future books I’ll write. I fantasize about living in exotic places like Sydney or Goa. I wonder what Veronica will be like when she’s 22 or if my girls will be friends when they’re teenagers. I daydream about being thinner, prettier, having more money, more time, more everything, anything.

Then once a week I find myself in a little yoga studio in Santa Monica and I find myself swimming back to what’s happening right now.

This is the life I’m actually living.

And then for brief moments, longer than I have in years, I inhabit myself. My true self, the one that exists right now. I embrace my life for what it is, for all the things it isn’t, for what it will never be. I step into all the flaws and and all the perfections, and for one tiny moment I stand still and let myself feel grateful.

This is the life I’m actually living.




  1. Sounds like a great teacher! I often say similar things in my classes—stuff about noticing what’s actually there and working with that, rather than what we hope or expect to be there. I say all of that precisely because I need practise at it myself. I can recognise it in my students because I struggle so much with it myself. And, like it seems to be for you, this practise I get at being present is half the reason I persist with yoga.

    What a beautiful way of phrasing it though, ‘this is the life I’m actually living’. Such a broad application. I love it.

    Comment by Sophie on January 22, 2013 at 12:33 pm

  2. My mother uses a varient that rougly translates to “This is my real life, my reality.” As a teenager, I found it pretty useless and funny, but as I’ve grown, this one mantra has begun to make more and more sense. It just snaps me back to reality.

    Of late, I’ve started using it myself. (I’m pretty sure my toddler will find this funny in his teens.)

    Comment by Kavita on January 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm

  3. I love this. Adding it to my repertoire of things to recite to myself!

    Comment by Sara on January 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm

  4. Love this! I am trying so hard to be mindful
    in everything I do. Sometimes you just get caught up in old habit, old behaviours but then I try to come back to the present moment. I will use this line whenever I find myself straying from the now. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Maria on January 22, 2013 at 10:33 pm

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