How the Simple Phrase, Be Where Your Feet Are, Focused My Present Moment Awareness.
I was rushing around my kitchen when I first heard the expression bleating out of the TV.
A simple mindfulness quote was the last thing on my mind.
With the dog’s eyes drilling into me, the geriatric cat weaving around my ankles, dinner simmering on the stove, and a million thoughts cramming my head, let’s say, mindful breathing was not on my mind.
But, through it all, the young football player’s words hit home.
It was the end of the 6pm news, and they had reached the sports report. Now, I am deeply disinterested in most things sport, so the young man chatting away on the screen hadn’t even warranted a glance from me—until he said it: “Be where your feet are.”
I snorted and shook my head. After a busy day filled with my day job, writing, and the general joys of pet-and-housekeeping, I could hardly be anywhere else but where my feet were!
In fact, I wished my feet were parked under a piazza table while I quaffed prosecco and watched the sun go down over Amalfi.
The evening wrapped up, and I fell into bed.
But I couldn’t shake the thought: be where your feet are.
I fully understand the whole “be mindful, live in the present moment” stuff—I have even blogged about it!—but this simple phrase cut through the buzzwords and hit home.
Over the last year and a half, I have spent an extraordinary amount of energy wishing I was somewhere else. Covid obliterated our family travel plans like so many others, but I kept running them through my head. We would be in Portugal right now. We should be leaving for Spain tomorrow. Ironically, even at the very moment I heard the phrase, I had been wishing I was somewhere else.
The next morning, the words still rattled around in my brain.
I threw myself into my usual morning routine; I love to get my day going with a set pattern of activities. When I sat down with my breakfast and coffee, I paused and breathed deeply, looking at the beautiful trees outside my windows, grateful to be living in a safe and peaceful town.
Then, when I walked my little dog—she’s fourteen, so the pace is glacial—I took the time to study the clouds and take in the long shadows cast by the early morning sun.
I patted myself on the back for being so mindful. I didn’t need some catchy saying; I had this baked!
Then my not-routine day began, otherwise known as real life. Emails flooded my inbox. I was on deadline for a video I needed to make, a client wanted to change his appointment, the cat had to be at the vet at 3, and so on and so on.
As there is no team of fairies ready to handle all of this, I sat down at my desk and started. A few hours in, I found my mind wandering down its usual well-worn path, thinking about moving to an island, dreaming about walking the streets of a romantic European city, imagining having tea with my sister in South Africa.
Stop! What was I doing? My feet weren’t in any of those places! They were firmly set on the footrest under my desk.
I paused and drew in a deep breath, bringing my mind back to the present. It took some effort, but I put all my focus into the immediate task, the very exciting world of emails.
I marveled at the technology that allowed me to see a client’s words seconds after she wrote them.
I took a moment to feel grateful that I even had clients.
I was thankful that I was able to do work I loved in a peaceful office with my dog at my feet.
Once I got started focusing on the present, I couldn’t stop. Why did I need to be somewhere else? I had it all right here. This is exactly what I wanted to do at this point in my life, and if it stopped being what I wanted, only I could change it.
As I tidied up my desk at the end of my workday, I reminded myself that I could only experience my life in the present moment.
Yesterday is done. For good or bad, I can’t go back and change a thing.
Tomorrow is an illusion. No matter how I think it will look or what I envisage will happen or even dream and hope happens, it is just my imagination.
Be where your feet are.
Then it dawned on me. The reason this saying kept resonating was because of its simplicity. I didn’t have to stop and actively remind myself to be mindful. I didn’t have to consciously improve my breathing, I just had to look at my feet.
Right this moment, this is where I was.
I wrote it on a sheet of paper and stuck it to my office wall. A perfectly succinct phrase that helps keep me in the moment. Be where your feet are.
Present moment, wonderful moment.