Let’s do a quick reality check, shall we? being present
Right now, at this very minute, are you living in the moment? Are you being present in your life? Is your mind wandering to the mountain of bills due next week or are you concentrating on right now? I’m no soothsayer, but one thing I know about you with certainty: right now, you’re reading! Mind blowing, huh?
As you move throughout your day, are you always forward-focused? While looking to the future isn’t inherently a bad thing, many times your existence in the present is being neglected. How many times has your mind been so preoccupied with something other than the present, then in a few minutes you can’t remember going downstairs, driving to the store or eating that sandwich? Yes, you’re here-and-now can be totally blocked out by your thoughts. Scary, right?
Being Present. So What Does it Mean?
Being present means to be more conscious of life as it’s happening. It means to focus on doing whatever it is that you’re doing at that moment. It’s when you accept the moment for what it is now. It’s the amalgamation of your thoughts, feelings, actions and attention all converging in one place and for one reason: the here and now. Sounds simple, right? In effect, it’s the absence of multitasking. What you’re really doing is blocking things out while you focus.
When we’re held hostage by our discursive thoughts (those constant thoughts that go streaming through the mind), especially negative thoughts, we can get knocked off track. Our thinking begins to spiral and our thoughts morph into more convoluted tales that have little resemblance to our reality. We are no longer present in the moment. We’re in the past, we’re in the future, we’re steeped in last week when that rude gentleman cut us off in traffic, we’re in a mental fog as we fret over the root canal we’re having next Friday – we’re everywhere but in the present.
What Life is Like When We’re Present
When we’re being fully present, we can better appreciate the moments of today…of our ‘right now’. We become more relaxed and calm as we’re not allowing external factors to interfere with our internal focus. Being present in our lives allows us to appreciate the world around us with a newness and more clarity. It can also give us greater self-awareness. Being present helps us to be more centered. It also helps us to revel in our life in all of its fullness. We can employ our senses — of sight, of sound, of taste, of touch, of smell — to enhance the experience. In the end, how will you feel? Content, perhaps delighted. And who couldn’t use more happiness in their life?
Ways to Be Present in Your Life
Do things more deliberately. When doing things, take your time. Life should not be solely about rushing. The more deliberate you can be, the better you will stay focused and on track.
Savor the Flavor. Food is a wonderful thing. Sure, it’s our daily act of sustenance, but it’s also the conduit to a deeply satisfying experience. Imagine biting into a fresh ear of grilled corn on the cob; the sweet, buttery kernels crunching in your mouth. It’s a thing of beauty. Take the time to savor your food. Concentrate on each bite as you distinguish the various tastes from sweet to umami. Close your eyes, be in the moment and enjoy the flavors.
Just be. When was the last time you took a few minutes out of your day to do nothing? To stare out the window, to sit in your garden with a cup of coffee and listen to the sounds of nature? To close your eyes and focus on the stillness and quietude? Haven’t done that? Maybe now is the time to start. Once a day…every day. Just be.
Unplug. Technology is a wonderful thing. However, that same technology can make us slaves to our devices and the abundance of apps it offers. Don’t bury yourself in electronics. Lessen your dependence on the devices and deepen your connections with those around you. Technology takes you away from life; instead, unplug and engage.
Stop the juggling act. Multitasking is the bane of being present. How can you actively focus on one thing when your mind is trying to navigate your thoughts in six different directions? Pick and thing; stick with it.
Breathe. Take a deep, oxygen filled breath. Now slowly exhale. Pay attention to your breathing. See how it puts you in tune with your body and your senses? Do this for several minutes. Your brain will thank you. Your body will thank you. Your decreased blood pressure will thank you. Your relaxing muscles will thank you. Less stress and more aware? You bet.
Being present in your life is not a strict mandate. Chances are your life won’t spiral out of control when you aren’t present in the moment. However, when you’re consciously present, you can better appreciate the moments that make up your present, and enjoy life fully in that glorious moment of awareness.
How present are you in your life?