We all have heard about presence, one way another. But what is presence, or being present, anyhow? The best way I can show you this is by example. I have always considered myself as an adventure junkie. I always wanted something incredibly exciting to happen, and if it didn’t, I used to get bored, followed by depressive periods. I recall a friend of mine once remarking this to me, however I thought that this was a nice characteristic of me, after all, is it so bad to want an exciting life? One of the ‘side effects’ of the transformational work I did through coaching and various other therapies was that what was working before, just didn’t work anymore. So why is working on ourselves worth doing anyway?
The answer came following the return from my trip in SE Asia last month. It was my first time in Asia and I was determined to make each and every day amazing. I chose the most beautiful and safest places, Thailand and Indonesia, and I simply let go and pampered myself, all by myself.
I experienced wonderful excitements and ‘highs’, however, there were two down sides:
- I couldn’t make them last
- I felt restless, most of the time
- I was sharing my experiences on social media, but was realising that I was becoming too self-centred
- When following other people’s travels on social media I found myself comparing to them, and then my photos and experiences seemed never to be good enough
- When I came back, it took me two weeks to recover, the first week with the classic jet lag and climate change, which is normal, and during the second week I was feeling depressed.
Overall, I was feeling a sense of lack. We often have this feeling, and more than often link it to something on the outside, such as ‘I will be fulfilled if I get that job promotion’ or ‘I will be fulfilled if he / she gets in touch’ or ‘I will be fulfilled if I get my dream home, car, dress, whatever.’ Then we sometimes we do get these things, we may feel OK for a while, but then the sense of lack comes back, only to be filled with another desire, or goal, to be reached by the end of this year.
I put the the phrases last month and by the end of this year because they both relate to times which are not in the present moment. The reality is that what we actually have, what is real, is only the present moment. Why should we bother with this? Here are some good reasons to be present:
- You experience an inner joy, a joy which lasts
- You feel as stable as a rock, and nothing can shake you from the outside
- You perform better, because you are focused only on what you are doing
- Life becomes richer, and more magnified, as you notice a beauty you haven’t noticed before
- You connect better with people
- You have more energy, as it is used only where it is needed
- Life starts to sustain you, rather than feel like a struggle
- Things happen for you, with no effort
- You get inspired, and take focused actions, instead of ‘work hard’
- All your fears and worries fade away
Did I convince you? If yes, read on.
Since our mind habitually takes us to the past or to the future, and its been doing that for a lifetime, presence won’t happen just like that. Same as working out our muscles at a gym to get stronger, our minds need a regular work out to train it to be present. Now that I have decided to practice presence, my joy has returned within just a few days. Here’s what I am doing to make this happen.
1. ‘Dive in’ any situation fully, even if the situation may seem unpleasant
Even the simplest things, like feeling cold when getting out of bed in the morning, can be unpleasant. Having someone cut you off in traffic, can be pure annoying. Waiting in a queue, is a flipping waste of time. These moments can encourage our mind to drift off somewhere else. Once you catch yourself doing this, don’t let that happen! How? Allow yourself to feel the cold, its wonderful just to be able to feel! Observe fully the traffic on the outside, that annoying person, your surroundings while you are waiting, what is happening in your body, how you are feeling. You will realise that these situations are not as bad as you may think, actually there is joy in them, and they are actually teaching you something.
2. Focus on your breathing, or use energy release techniques
Breathing is the most natural thing in the world, yet we often take it for granted. Whenever you feel stuck or anxious, just breathe. You will notice yourself calming down and being present within seconds. Various breathing techniques exist, including continuous oxygen breathing, or breathing in 4 counts, holding your breath for 2 counts, and breathing out another 4 counts, followed by another 2 counts. Many other techniques exist, such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping, a very powerful tool which focuses on stimulating the acupressure points of your body by tapping on them systematically.
3. Meditate regularly
This is a biggie for me. I always thought that Meditation is for weird gurus dressed in harem pants. Actually meditation is the simplest and most powerful tool in the world, and its available to everyone! Since the New Year, I took on the practice of doing some exercises called ‘Tibetian rites’, which is like moving yoga for 10-15 mins each morning, followed by 30 mins to an hour of meditation, which is simply sitting still and observing. I put a timer on my phone in order to keep the time. It is important not to resist anything while in that state, such as thoughts, as ‘what you resist, persists.’ You can see your thoughts as clouds coming and going in the sky. It is also very useful to focus on your breathing. If you do this in bed, make sure you sit up, preferably in a cross-legged position, or just sit on a chair, this is to avoid falling asleep! By time, I am noticing myself more connected and stable, and it grows over time!
4. Prepare gratitude lists
Gratitude actually helps us to appreciate what we already have, thus replacing the belief ‘I will be happy if’ with ‘I am happy right now!’ Make a list of the things you are grateful for, and say thank you after reading each one of them aloud, you will be amazed how the good feelings rush in “INSTANTLY”!
5. Imagine yourself as being a solid lego structure!
This one really works for me. A typical symptom of not being present is that your attention is scattered, meaning that you are not really focused on anything, you are all over the place! Try to put your attention on just one thing – the job you are doing, the person you are speaking to, and make sure that all parts of you are there. Visualise in whatever way works for you. What works for me is imagining myself as a bunch of lego blocks scattered all over the place when I am not present, but when I am present, those blocks are stuck together into one solid structure. All my parts are stuck together, I am present, I am complete. A practice which supports this technique is to pause for a few seconds between one task and another during your day.
Have fun with these practices, and enjoy presence! If you are not present all the time, or fall back, this is completely normal, accept it, don’t beat yourself up, and just jump back into presence! If you have any other practices you would like to share, feel free to leave a comment. This is not just my blog, it’s your blog too!