We spend so much of our time wanting to be somewhere else but are actually absent from where we truly are right now.
So many of our thoughts are either in the past, mulling over what has happened, regretting or trying to re-write the past.
Or, our thoughts are focused on the future worrying about stuff still to happen and rushing to meet our troubles halfway. We are missing out on the gift of the present.
I love that saying, you know …
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”.
We may spend time worrying that we are not where we are supposed to be. Or, we worry that we are behind where we should be. Or, that we are not in the right place. But, where we are right now is exactly where we should be. Put a hand over your heart and say that out loud to yourself. “Where I am right now is exactly where I should be.”
Our life is a journey and every minute that passes is part of our story.
Learning to be present and notice the moments, the joys, the lessons, the people, the pain, and the pleasures that are happening to us and around us right now enriches our lives.
When we are focused on the present, we gain power. Power that we can harness to bring our best self and get our best results from the day. So much of our energy is drained by not being present in the now. When we are focusing on the past or the future, we are focusing our power and energy there so we can’t bring it to what is happening right now. This makes it harder for us to achieve what we want right now and can lead to burnout, overwhelm and self-sabotage.
When you are present with what you are doing or trying to achieve you want to feel it in your heart. You want to mean it in your mind and you want to believe it in your body. Whether it is a conversation with someone or cooking dinner or whatever. Check-in with yourself, heart, mind and body and be totally there.
Presence is not just mindfulness, aka being aware of what is going on around us. Presence is alignment.
Gandhi once said that we are in harmony when what we think, what we say, and what we do are aligned.
Another way to think about this is to think about where our intention is at any given moment. What is it that we are wanting to achieve?
The depth of our intention is the depth of our presence. The stronger our ‘why’, the greater our presence and the stronger the focus is upon the outcome.
When we understand why we want something and what our purpose or intention is towards it, we can then bring our full presence to it.
Presence also helps us to work through pain. Often, we look for ways to bury, hide or distract ourselves from pain. This can feel instinctive or habitual in that we don’t even realise that we are doing it.
We have all sorts of distracting behaviours where we try to make ourselves feel better instead of feeling pain. But pushing away pain doesn’t help us to process it or deal with it.
Being present with our pain can be really hard. We don’t want to feel it. We don’t want to acknowledge it. But that doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it ensures that it stays around even longer.
If we can sit with it and feel it, even notice where we feel it in our body and notice the thoughts we have about it … this can help us work through it. Often, it means being curious about our thoughts and maybe recognising that they are actually contributing to the pain.
Once we have this awareness, we can change our thoughts. And, as our thoughts create our feelings, we can then change how we feel.
So, how can we get present in the moment? One great technique is the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Method. This is often taught to sufferers of anxiety to help them come back to the present and help them to stop worrying about the future.
The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Method is a way of taking stock of the moment.
Stop and notice:
5 things you can see around you
4 things that you can touch
3 things that you can hear
2 things that you can smell, and
1 thing that you can taste.
This technique helps to ground you and bring you into the present. It also helps you to create a mental picture or memory of the moment and is a good way to savour special moments and lock them away in your memory to enjoy again later.
We think that the opposite of distraction is focus but this isn’t true. The opposite of distraction is ATTRACTION. So, when you find yourself getting distracted from something ask yourself, what is it that is no longer attractive to you about it?
Sometimes, you may need some space from something to help you re-engage with it. Needing space isn’t the same as distraction.
When you want to increase your presence, a good technique is to visualise an alternative to what is currently happening. Visualise how you want it to be. And, as mentioned earlier, in this visualisation you really want to feel it in your heart. You want to mean it in your mind and really believe it in your body. Visualise the situation in a way that creates more connection for you and attraction.
We have such busy days and we often don’t make time to check in with ourselves. How often do we schedule meetings with others but don’t schedule any time for ourselves?
A good practice is to schedule a 5-minute meeting with yourself each day and ask yourself the following questions:
How are you doing today?
No, how are you really doing today?
What can we do to make today better?
Don’t wait for others to ask you these questions. When we can answer these questions for ourselves, we attract better things into our lives.
It is important to take positive steps towards our own happiness each and every day. Keeping our thoughts and attitudes clean is just like keeping our bodies clean. It needs to be done regularly, even daily. Even if we are trying to avoid the dirt, we can still get a build-up of grime that needs to be washed away. We absorb energy from all around us. We need to take steps every day to ‘wash’ our thinking and ensure we are on track.
Taking positive steps towards creating our own happiness is the basis of self-care. Self-care is important so you can have energy for others.
What could you achieve if you had more presence and energy to focus? What would you focus on instead? What is your vision for ‘better’? Tell us in the comments below.
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