"She thinks too much."

That was the verdict I received on my overall health from Grand Master Zhou Ting-Jue after a one-hour session with this astonishing Qi Gong healer and Kung Fu expert at Ojai's Bernhoft Center for Advanced Medicine. Master Zhou is famous for his ability to intuit, through evaluating a person's qi, or life force, whether there are any health problems. He then uses his own powerful qi, which takes the form of intense heat emitted from his hands, to adjust the patient's own energy fields. This enables them to heal themselves.

So when Master Zhou told his wonderful interpreter Kevin "she thinks too much," in answer to my question, "How am I doing?" I was a little nonplussed.

Anyone who knows me knows I think too much. I come from a long, proud line of overthinkers. My grandmother actually wore grooves in her Malibu's steering wheel with her thumbs! So this didn't come as a surprise to me.

What DID surprise me were the effects of Master Zhou's treatment on my body and mind. First off, I'd asked him to treat me for depression and stress, which are the ailments that bother me the most. Jim watched the treatment, and said Master Zhou spent a great deal of time working around my head and what's known in Chinese medicine as the "lower Dantien." (In Qi Gong, this area is located just below the navel, and is considered to house a person's lifetime supply of qi. I do know that when Kevin asked if I was ready for the "barbeque," he was NOT kidding.)

After the session, I felt a sharp burning sensation in my lower abdomen, and discovered that I had a small, circular first-degree burn right below my navel. As the week went on, I began to notice a strange sense of detachment from all the activities of my usual daily life, as though I was watching it all from above. My body felt weird, too, and new in some way, as though I had come back into it from another place and had lost the operating instructions.  I went around like that all week.

And then yesterday, in the shower (where I do most of my thinking--I haven't actually experienced a shower in probably 12 years), I remembered a scene from one of my favorite movies, Dan Millman's Peaceful Warrior. I think often about this one scene in the movie where the young hero suddenly clues in about being present. In the film, he's a gifted gymnast, but is trapped from making the leap to true excellence by overthinking. Suddenly, while taking a shower, he somehow understands in a moment of beautiful clarity what it means to be present, and to have peace from the crazy person who's constantly jabbering in our heads. He sees each drop of water, he's in awe of the light streaming through the window. He just is.

So I realized, still in my own shower and still in problem-solving mode, that being present is the opposite of thinking. And that if I could be present more in my own life, I would automatically be thinking less. Problem solved.

Thanks to Master Zhou's message, which closely correlates with the oft-provided opinion of my martial arts teacher/husband/best friend Jim, I've really been watching myself think and then making the effort just to be. A great Zen master once said, "When you're washing the dishes, wash the dishes. When you're sweeping the floor, sweep the floor. When you're on the toilet, be on the toilet." There are endless opportunities to practice this, and when you do, everything gets bigger, breathing resumes, and a beautiful relaxation settles in to snuggle with you like a slinky, purring cat.

As I'm always reminding my yoga students, if you can just learn how to get out of your own way by not thinking so much, then Source Energy can flow through you and allow you to do the things you were put here to do. My mom likes to ask sweetly when she comes to my class, "Are you listening to yourself, honey?" Uh, thanks, Mom.

My teabag announced to me last night: "A relaxed mind is a creative mind." I think I'm going to give this presence thing a try.

How do you practice presence in your daily life?

NOTE:  I just want to let you know, it's my own damn fault I got burned by Master Zhou's powerful energy. I was supposed to say "hot"  when it became too intense, but I figured (using impeccable logic) that if some is good, more is better. So if you go see Master Zhou, say "HOT" when the barbeque fires up!