Becoming more present

Being-PresentAs I was filming for my coaching program, I spent some time with my clients on being more present and what that means.  Why is it even important?  Being more present is something that I too struggle with.  I am constantly planning.  Planning the next retreat, and the one after and the workshop after and then if it’s not business related, then I am planning our family events.  Planning bring me joy, for sure, but I am constantly living in the future and excited about what is to come.  I forget about what is happening right now.

Believe it or not, we as humans are not great at multi-tasking.  You may be challenging me right now with your mind as you are reading this, ‘listening’ to your kids in the other room, browsing through Facebook, all while you eat dinner.  The truth is, we can do more than one item at a time, sure, but only one is getting the most active part of our brain; the rest is on a version of autopilot and not at all getting the creative, intelligent aspect of our brains.  This is why texting and driving is like driving while under the influence 3 tines the legal limit.  Aside from ‘multi-tasking’,  we are either ruminating about the past or anticipating the future (whether it be a good anticipation or not), rather than focusing on the present moment.  Sadly, what we end up doing is passing through that moment on the way to somewhere else and, in doing so, we miss the moment altogether.   This is how life passes us by.  We do it to ourselves.

What is the number one regret of almost every single person on their deathbed?  They wished they had been more present.  Played more with their kids.  Spent more time with loved ones.  Took more walks.  Enjoyed nature more.  NO ONE wishes they had done more projects, been better at multi tasking, done more laundry or that they had worked more hours.

Being present means being more connected with yourself, your loved ones and your surroundings.  It means less tension, less stress and more joy, peace and creativity.  It means more living.

Here are three simple ways to be more present:

  1. Focus on your breath.  Yes, your breath.  You have most likely read this somewhere before and thought; ok, whatever, I can tell I am breathing, now what?  Well here is what I want you to do:  Take a slow deep breath in through your nose and hold it for a count of three. Now release it slowly through your nose for a count of five.  Repeat this 5-10 times.  This can be done anytime, anywhere.  While you are doing it, focus on the sounds your body is making, the feeling of your lungs expanding, the air as it leaves your body.  Focus on your senses.
  2. Focus on what you are doing in this moment.  Right now.  Maybe grab a pen and paper (or journal) and journal what is happening.  NO, this is not silly.  It is therapeutic, it is being present.  Write down, “I am listening to the birds”.  “I am listening to my kids fight (yes, that is being present)”. “I am watching my neighbor check the mail in his underwear (scary, but you are present)”.  You can then choose to write down 3-5 things you are grateful for right at that moment.  “I am grateful for the breath that fuels my body”.  “I am grateful for my health”.  “I am grateful for my children”.
  3. Listen to a quick guided meditation.  If you go into YouTube (or use any meditation program you may have) and type “peace meditation”- hundreds will come up.  Pick one with the amount of time you have to give (3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc), with great ratings and close your eyes and listen to it.  Give in to it.

It is easy to not be present.  Kids need taxied around, homework needs to be reviewed, dinner cooked, laundry done, projects reviewed, emails returned, calls returned, reports to write, bills to pay, house chores to do, repairs to do…the list is endless.  The list will still be there in five minutes.  Take at least five minutes and be present.  Then do it again in an hour or so.  And again.  You will find that being present, in the moment, means more to embrace and love- it means dying with less regrets or none, it means allowing love, peace, joy and happiness to lead you versus tension, stress and negative energy.  It means living.

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