With the sheer number of articles and books I’ve read on the idea of “being present” you would think that I’ve have mastered this practice. Yet as I sat down to knock out my emails from the day before, my mind raced from here to there. Frustrated by the lack of focus, I sat back into my cheap computer chair. This is not the first time this has happened and chances are it won’t be the last. In the meantime, I will share with you where I am at in the process.
When I sat back to ruminate on the practice of presence in my life, my mind rebounded off other events of the past week. I needed to do something to shift my internal awareness, which led me to the following exercises:
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through the nose (PAUSE) and exhale it out of your mouth. Keep doing this for 5 to 10 rounds of breath to bring your awareness to your physical body.
Block out your distractions. If you have more than one window open on your computer, close it. If you have headphones in your ears or music on in the background, shut it off. If you’re in a busy setting, move to a more secluded location. The less distractions you have, the easier it is to be here in the now.
Slow Down & Pay Attention To Detail
Take notice of all the little aspects of the current task you are doing. As opposed to blocking out other stimuli, get so involved in your current project that you don’t have the time or mental capacity to think about anything else.
Leave yourself enough time to get from point A to B. Stop rushing around. Allow yourself the space to focus and be fully present in each moment along the way.
Sit or lay down in a quiet place with your hands on your knees, belly or at heart center. Bring focus to your breath. Each time your mind thinks of the past, tap your left hand. Each time your mind wanders to the future, tap your right hand. Kindly continue to bring your attention back to the now.
Tune into your connection with a higher power. Ask for help in slowing down to be in the moment. Trust that you have been given the strength to do so.
We all find presence in our own way. Get curious about the mindfulness behind the act of being present. The curiosity and self-study has the potential to shed light on what techniques work for you.
From this list, what resonates with you? What doesn’t? Please share in the comments if you have any other strategies that we could benefit from. We are in this together- your opinion matters.
Yoga Teacher & Life Coach
Being a yogi isn’t all deep breaths and chill vibes. It’s interesting how often people make stereotypes about who I am because of my profession and hobbies. While I do enjoy meditation and hiking I also thrive on keeping my house sparkling clean and completing my endless to-do lists.
Since the time I worked as an associate at a financial planning company managing an advisor’s business, to-do lists have been my best friend. I was praised for my organization and ability to “never forget” the tasks that had to be completed. The positive reinforcement and ability to complete more tasks through organization trickled into my personal life. From grocery lists to reading lists, I held 5 rolling lists at a time.
I was’t until I reviewed my list one warm Thursday evening that I began to think these lists were beginning to be more harmful than helpful. As the lists stemmed from my work tasks [a list I kept in two locations] to what to pack on a trip, all the way down the list to GO TO YOGA I ran my life around the to-dos. I was so attached to what needed to be done, I often forgot about what I wanted to really be doing allowing little time for spontaneity.
When something would come up – not on my list – I would stress out, reorganize the list, and then still try to fit it all into the same time period. I didn’t need a list to tell me to respond to an email in my inbox, call my grandma, or go to the grocery store. I needed to be present in my life in every possible moment. I was missing a sense of awareness in what was happening around me. I was missing the flexibility to adapt to last minute changes. Not to mention because I was writing everything down, I was training my mind to reference the list rather than remember from memory recall what needed to get done.
Enter list rehab.
I spent the next month cutting out the lists I didn’t need in an effort to allow for more spontaneity. In the early morning hours of days I knew I had a lot to tackle, I repeated the mantra – “I trust that I will remember what really needs to be done”. I actively planned less scheduled engagements to create space for myself to think. Slowly over the next month, I began to trust myself that everything would get done without a to-do list.
Trusting that I would remember the really important things that needed to get done, I can happily report I feel a renewed sense of presence in my life. In fact, I get more shit done. I am ok with last minute requests/ changes and I don’t stress myself out when plans changed. In telling myself, ‘if it’s important, I will remember it’ guess what – I did!
How many rolling lists do you keep? Which ones do you REALLY need? How can you live more deeply in the present moment and allow for the beautiful spontaneity of life to run your free time rather than your to-do lists?
Good Morning & Happy Monday!
Check out my new video about life, tough times, and moving through it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZK7tKcWlIw&feature=youtu.be 😉
With Love & Light,