Day 8 Presence
Abraham Maslow“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”
Buddha“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Today’s challenge is to be present. Science tells us that we are actually only present about 50% of the time. The rest of the time we are remembering the past or projecting towards the future. Yet being fully present in the moment is when we are happiest. Many of our spiritual traditions have encouraged us to be present in the here and now. When we are too much in the past we can caught up in regrets or sorrow and when we are too much in the future we can become anxious. There are wonderful meditation programs out there and I am a huge fan of meditation but today’s challenge is about actually just being present, being in the here and now and getting a better balance between the past, present and future.
Wayne Dyer“Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.”
Ram Dass“The next message you need is always right where you are.”
The modern world pushes us to be in our minds and often out of the present, remembering the past, jumping to the future, problem solving, goal setting, time planning. Our minds are full of thoughts. We can end up spending very little of our day actually fully present in the moment.. When we are in the present we are whole and authentic and it is easier to experience happiness.
How do we do this, when you catch yourself today with your mind wandering off, come back to the present. What can you focus on and appreciate in this moment.
Learn to bring the mind back to the now, to savouring whatever you are doing . Try and find joy in the simplest of things today. Live in the moment accept and discern attention in everything you do. Experience your environment, touch, sound, taste, sight and smell.
Eckhart Tolle tells us that we are always waiting for the next moment , we are always trying to get to the end point. But life consists of the present moment, life is never not this moment. He suggests being aligned with where we are right now and with what we are doing right now. Be total in doing it. Be true to life by being true to this moment. Give this moment your best, then the next, then the next.
Try today to be here. Start with walking mindfully. If you are going from place to place today, be present. Take advantage of the natural beauty around you. Even if you are just walking 2 km to the supermarket, make it a mindful nature walk. Engage all your senses and stay aware of what’s happening both around you and within you. Be intentional with your awareness; notice your feet hitting the ground with each step, See everything there is to see around you, open your ears to all the sounds surrounding you, feel each inhalation and exhalation, and just generally be aware of what is happening in each moment.
The 3-Minute Breathing Space
Yesterday i went out for a walk. I used the 3 minute breathing space technique. For the first minute i checked in with how i was feeling, the sensations in my body, i became aware of my thoughts. For the second minute I brought my attention to my breathing, for the third minute i expanded my attention away from the breath, to the environment all around me. As i did this while fully in my body, my walk became completely different, i noticed how green the trees were, how everything was coming to life. As i moved up the little road behind the house i saw this enormous hare that my husband had christened Harry, i saw my neighbours fat white cat sitting on the wall. I could hear the breeze in the trees. I became aware of a host of things and it felt so peaceful in that moment. The famous monk Thich Nhat Tan calls it coming home.
So today try to come home, try to be present whenever you can, be aware of when you have moved into past or future and when possible come back to the now
How to do The Three minute exercise: There is a quick exercise which is useful in becoming more mindful. This takes three minutes to do, one minute per section.
The exercise is broken into three sections, one per minute, and works as follows:
- For the first minute ask “how am I doing right now?” just focus on your feelings, thoughts, and sensations that arise, and trying to give these words and phrases.
- For the second minute just bring your attention to your breathing, your inhalation, your exhalation.
- For the last minute expand your attention outward from the breath, to the environment all around you, become aware of this environment right now.
- Be here right now. Repeat this throughout the day to bring you back here so that you are not missing your life.
It is a simple exercise, requiring only a window with some kind of a view.
Step 1: find a space at a window where there are sights to be seen outside;
Step 2: look at everything there is to see. Try not to label or categorise what you see outside the window; try to notice the colours, the patterns, or the textures; When i do this i imagine i am a painter and i am about to paint the scene, i see the scene as a painter would see it.
Step 3: pay attention to the movement of the grass or leaves in the breeze. Notice the many different shapes present in this small segment of the world you can see.
Step 4: if you become distracted, gently pull your mind away from those thoughts and notice a colour or shape again to put you back in the right frame of mind.
You can also try Mindfulness listening, be fully present when your partner, child, flatmate friend is talking.
I have added some links to further exercises on being present.