What it Means to Truly Be Present
Thích Nhất Hạnh once said, “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
“If you are attentive, you will see it.” YES, the operative words of wisdom. Being present so as to not miss out on the joy and happiness of the moment… not always an easy task, especially when we have a lot on our plates.
How often have we all fallen prey to things that pull us out of the present moment? Things like worry? Fear? The “what ifs”?
I raise my hand and admit I’ve danced with the “what ifs” and projected myself into the future more times than I can count. As a matter of fact, I recall one time in particular that didn’t just rob me of the joy in the moment, but it cost me financially.
I was in my car getting ready to pull out of the garage to head to an appointment. I was in a hurry and didn’t want to be late. Not only was my focus on not being late, but I was worrying about the appointment. My mind was racing well ahead of my car so I didn’t notice that the garage door hadn’t opened all the way before backing out.
BANG!!! Garage door + car = bent and crumpled door, creased car hood and lateness.
The moral of the story…if I’d been present and not in the future worrying about something that may not have happened I wouldn’t have crashed into the garage door. Not to mention, I would have saved myself several hundreds of dollars and the time it took to repair my car and the garage door.
WAYS TO TELL WHEN WE AREN’T PRESENT
We don’t need to have a tangle with a garage door to bring us back to the present moment. Instead here are few ways to tell when we are anywhere but the here and now…
- What ifs, Fears & Worries, Oh My!: when these are present we aren’t. We’re in the future worrying about something that has yet to happen and may never happen. For example, fearing that the bills won’t get paid next month or worrying about how a project will get done.
- Zoning Out: when we can’t remember what we were doing or saying. Having to re-read the same page of a book several times. Not remembering whether we took our vitamins. All tip-offs to being zoned out.
- Tuning Out: when we’re in a conversation and we haven’t heard even half of it. How embarrassing!
What indicators let you know that you’re not present?
When we create awareness around the indicators we begin to recognize them more often. That way we give ourselves the opportunity to choose the best way to re-engage the present moment.
Here’s the reality, when we aren’t in the present moment we miss out on connections, opportunities, and synchronicities. Instead, we open ourselves up to emotional drain, disconnect, and even financial issues.
WAYS TO BECOME PRESENT
With our indicators in hand, here are a few suggestions for pulling ourselves out of wherever we are and back into the present moment.
4,4, & 4 Breathing. This little breathing technique works wonders for drawing us back into the here and the now. Not to mention it helps to eradicate fear and worry.
Here’s how…Take a deep breath in to the count of four. Exhale to a count of four. Repeat four times. Easy!
Gratitude. Expressing gratitude for “what is” helps to bring us back into the present moment. Just like breath work it also helps to eradicate fear and worry, because the brain can’t think positive and negative thoughts at the same time.
Try this little exercise on for size. In this very moment take a look around and express gratitude for five things that you see or feel. It could be the chair you’re sitting in right now. The tea you’re drinking.
When we look around and express gratitude for all that we have, we connect to the bliss of the present moment. Not to mention, we then open ourselves up to see more positives.
Connecting with our bodies. Stretching. Wiggling toes. Tightening and releasing muscles are all a great ways to get present. When we’re focusing on certain areas of our body, our attention shifts from where we were to the present moment. Plus, we’re giving our bodies a little love too.
Do one thing and only one thing. If we’re busying doing several things at once, it’s time to just focus on one thing. Focused attention doesn’t just pull us into the present moment, but it creates more effectiveness in what we ‘re doing.
Up for a challenge? Set a timer for 15 minutes. During that 15 minutes concentrate on doing just one thing with no distractions. Be sure to notice not only the presence level, but how much you got accomplished.
Note: If the thought of 15 minutes of focused attention causes stress, try five minutes instead.
Engage our senses. What are we seeing right now? What do we smell right now? What do we taste right now? What are we hearing right now? What are we feeling against our skin right now?
Ask questions. Along the same lines of engaging our senses, when we ask ourselves questions we create a connection with the present moment and become more mindful. For example, “Where am I right now?” “What am I doing in the future?” “Where do I want to be?” “What’s it costing me to worry about _______?” In addition to becoming more present we also give ourselves the opportunity to think through whatever may be detracting from our joy in that moment.
Journal. Time to break out the old pen and paper. Putting our thoughts, regardless of what they are, on paper is a great way to gain presence. It’s also a great way to create awareness.
Change up direction. Taking a different way to work or the grocery store is a great way to connect to the present moment and see sights we may not have noticed before. It’s really hard to drive on autopilot when the route is new and different.
Create a morning presence ritual. Such as meditation, intuitive readings, guided writing. When we start our day off in the present moment, we are more likely to stay there.
Be like our pets. Just like in this little cartoon. We can take a page from our pets when it comes to being present and focus on what’s in front of us in any given moment.
Whatever we choose to use to keep us in the here and the now, the important thing is that we keep doing it. Consciously creating presence every day helps to make it a habit. It’s in the here and the now, that is where all the cool things are. It’s not down the road. It’s not five days ahead. It’s right here just waiting for us to engage and enjoy.
PRESENT MOMENT PLUSES
Aside from avoiding a collision with a garage door, there are some terrific benefits to being in the present moment.
- We’re more in tune with our own intuition, which means we see the signs and signals that help us with decisions and directions.
- We steer clear of fear. Fear is a future and a past thing, not a present moment thing.
- We don’t miss out on the fun or the important things in life.
- We don’t run the risk of tuning out in a conversation.
- We improve our recall and memory.
For additional information on the benefits of being present, check out the following articles:
15 un-expected side-benefits to living in the present moment
What are the benefits of living in the present?
PRESENT MOMENT CALL TO ACTION
Starting today, lets make it a point to be more present. As we are doing so lets all make note of the things we notice that we didn’t notice before. Who’s with me?
Until next time, I wish you nothing but present moment goodness, lots of love and light…
Originally published at www.whatswithinu.com.