Practical Steps to Being More Present
In a previous post, I explained that being present is a state where you are fully aware and focused on what you are experiencing.
Sometimes it is in times of adversity that we obtain this clarity, this oneness with what is, because our worst has materialized and our mind can’t take us to a scarier place.
Or it can be in the moment of pure joy like falling in love. When you are with the person you love with your heart, mind and soul.
But what about the rest of the times? We don’t experience life’s devastating blows or the highs of something new every day of our life. So what do we do then?
There are simple things that can be done to increase our state of presence. We all experience presence but then get distracted by the internal mental noise or the external demands of daily living. If we can slowly build our presence muscle, and keep going we will be more present than not.
The following are what I have done and still do that I found helpful.
I. Do what you love. If you are enjoying what you’re doing, chances are it will command your full attention. In this case presence comes naturally. Knowing what you love and doing it are two of the most important things you can do for yourself.
II. If you have to do something you don’t enjoy, do it deliberately and with acceptance. I found if you do things slowly and try as much as possible to focus on the doing without resistance, you will get it done and you won’t experience negative emotions. This is more challenging as we will almost automatically fall into a negative state and start complaining before even starting on the task.
How do you accept doing something you’re not so enthused about ? You may want to consider the following:
- Choices: The first thing is to remind yourself of is that somebody has to do it. If you don’t want to do it, can you get someone else to do it? Can you do it some other time? Recognize that it is your choice to do it.
- Rewards and benefits: What are the benefits of doing a task? Focusing on the positive makes the mundane more acceptable.
- Just start doing and let the experience take you over. Once you start, you build momentum which will motivate you to keep going and get things done.
- Don’t over do it. That is a kill joy by itself. Listen to your body. If you physically can’t bring yourself to do something, ask yourself why and consider rescheduling the task. Give yourself a couple of breaks on the same task but no more, otherwise you are just procrastinating.
III. Pay attention to your thoughts. Recognize when the mind is trying to distract you. Don’t resist or question your thoughts, just observe and then let them leave you. The moment you realize what is going through your mind, it will be over for that thought. Then gently bring your attention back to what your were doing. We do this all the time. We get in and out of our thought pattern and in and out of our life experiences.
IV. Be still. Practice being in a state were you don’t have to do or worry about anything. Just be quiet and listen, or take a few deep breaths or meditate.
The more you look into your thoughts the faster you’ll get back to your life. René Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” I say: I observe my thoughts, therefore I am.
The moments we live are the moments that we fully experience life as it unfolds without distractions. Every moment can be a meditation on life.