What does it mean to “Be Present”?
Do you remember actually being in the shower this morning? Did you breathe deeply and feel the warm droplets of water on your skin? Or were you compiling lists, going over all the things you have to accomplish this day, analyzing what you didn’t get done and worrying if there are enough hours in the day? Did your day begin with “negative monkey chatter’ in your mind? Do you remember driving this morning? Did you see the glorious sun rays on the gorgeous blossoming rose?
Most of us, I would guess, went through our morning on ‘automatic pilot’, going through the motions, worrying and planning without truly being present. So many things are vying for our attention it is harder and harder to be fully present. Sometimes you arrive at a destination wondering how you actually got there, scary!
The buzz word of the day is “PRESENCE”! Recently I was speaking to a friend about the quest to “be present” in our chaotic, over stimulated, busy lives and she agreed “everyone is talking about presence”. But what does it actually mean to become present? PRESENT = existing, occurring now, present day, now, today, in the moment! Jon Kabat-Zinn writes “Presence is paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment non-judgmentally. Being present is being fully engaged, involved and attentive to what is happening with your body, mind and heart. It is participating, observing and sensing simultaneously. Awake, in the moment.”
The first step to presence is wanting to be present; or setting the intention of being present. It is active, presence takes action. The second step is to bring your awareness and attention back to the moment. At first you may struggle. As soon as you set the intention to be present your mind will wander. Be kind to yourself. It is ok. There is no right or wrong here.
Presence is a muscle that you develop with practice. When thoughts come, allow them to come and then gently let them go. Be patient with yourself, take a deep breath, fill your lungs to capacity and exhale slowly through your mouth. Bring your attention back to the moment again. Keep going, keep trying to be present. Observe how it feels to be present. At first it might feel strange, unfamiliar and overwhelming. Our modern world has us trained to be distracted but with these simple steps you will begin to feel comfortable in the moment.
Imagine how focused you will become when you are present. The only time you have is now, this very moment, why not be present for it, feel it, experience it. Imagine how different your interactions will be if you practice presence. Colours are brighter, sound is clearer, relationships deeper.
“I remind myself over and over; be aware of this breath, this moment, this step. This is the magic, the fairy dust. All I longed for is mine right here, right now in this moment always.” Zinn
This is the only life you have. I encourage you to choose to be present in this moment!