The Gift of Presence

Someone recently suggested to me that I need to work on being more mindful, more checked in and more present. Ouch, am I right? If you’ve been reading my work for a while, then you know that I don’t try to portray myself and my life as being perfect. Certainly not in the way I eat, or move and this mindset stuff is always a work in progress. I share honestly because I  believe that we’re really more similar than we are different: we’re all just trying to do our best. If you struggle with staying present and in the moment, I think you’re probably in the majority – welcome to the club.

When I was accused of being out to lunch, yes, I was a touch insulted. But they were right, and I’m open to it. My one and only parameter for agreeing to practice a little mindfulness: it must not take up extra time.  That is: I need to be able to incorporate it into the tasks I’m already doing. Well, I’ve found a few things that create minimal intrusion into my day and I thought I’d share them with you, in case you’re like me: time-strapped and not always the most present person in the room. The truth is, bringing ourselves back into the moment doesn’t need to be a long, complicated ordeal. Calling ourselves away from the stories and back into the moment is something that we actually owe to ourselves, and if I’m being honest, it’s a form of respect that we owe to those around us.

  • Go back to your breath. Hands down, the simplest way that I’ve found for getting back to the present is to slow down and tune into my breath. Slow it way down, count to 4 on the inhale and notice the physical sensations. Count to 4 on the exhale and allow yourself to soften, melt and relax.
  • Walk without distraction: When you’re walking outdoors especially, but when you’re walking anywhere really, put your phone away and use that time to specifically get curious about what’s around you right now. Take just a few minutes to notice your surroundings, feel the earth under your feet, notice the temperature of the air, the sounds and smells. Tune into that moment.
  • Enjoy without distraction: Take a couple of moments to yourself when you’re enjoying your coffee, or whatever it is that you enjoy. Take just just two minutes to notice and appreciate the flavours, textures, smells, temperatures, how the mug feels in your hand, the sound of your spoon when you stir, how the first sip for you. We most often are either unfocused or rushing and don’t truly tune into the simple enjoyment that’s right in front of us.

The truth is, this stuff sounds super simple, but it’s normal to notice our thoughts leaving the room, and we’ll have to call them back. Approach this little exercise with curiosity, not judgement and get ready for a rewarding practice that will help you be more present for yourself and also for those around you.

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