7 Steps To Being Present
We hear a lot about being present and mindful - not just within spiritual circles - but more and more in the work place and also social life. What exactly is mindfulness?
Simply, mindfulness is awareness of the present or the ability to be present in all aspects of our lives. It's a honing of the mind to focus on what is happening right now. You're more productive when you're mindful. But more importantly, being present is undoubtedly the only way to enjoy life to the fullest. By being mindful, you enjoy your food more, you enjoy friends and family more, you enjoy exercise, you enjoy anything you're doing more.
There are a few simple steps that can lead us to the experience of profound attention and a direct experience of the moment that we're in.
Take A Breath
Breath, along with change, is the only constant, and being present starts with the breath. Simply draw a deep breath and let it out through your nose. When we breathe through our mouth it triggers a subtle anxiety response, which increases heart rate and redirects blood flow. A slow release of breath through the nose has the opposite effect of mouth-breathing, and draws a relaxation response. Nevertheless, if done correctly, breathing through your mouth can be very powerful when used as part of a breath-hold technique such as the Wim Hof method.
Do One Thing At A Time
Contrary to popular belief, human beings cannot multitask. What we are capable of is handling a number of serial tasks in rapid succession, or mixing automatic tasks with those that are not so automatic. That's one of the reasons that the National Transportation Safety Board in the US reports that texting while driving is the functional equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
If you do less, you can do those things with more concentration. If you fill your day with tasks, you will be rushing from one thing to the next without stopping to think about what you do. But you're busy and you can't possibly do less, right? You can. It's a matter of figuring out what's important, and letting go of what's not.
Put Space Between Things
Related to the "Do less" rule, but it's a way of managing your schedule so that you always have time to complete each task. Don't schedule things close together -- instead, leave room between things on your schedule. That gives you a more relaxed schedule, and leaves space in case one task takes longer than you planned.
Come Into Your Body
Being grounded in your physical body will help you experience the here and now. Being in your body allows you to fully experience life. Life is only happening right now, in this moment. When we leave the moment by getting distracted by our thoughts, we lose the opportunity to experience what it feels to really be alive. Deep kinesthetic awareness of your body can take time to develop, as many of us are constantly stressed, and it can make us lose the connection to our physical self and develop a degree of numbness. Following the previous steps consistently will help you overcome this.
Release Your Tensions
When you come into your body you become aware of the chronic muscular tensions that you hold. They have been built up through stress and sedentary lifestyle, and repetative movement patterns. Ways to combat this include bioenergetic therapy, yoga, foam rolling and massage. Once the physical tensions have been diminished by relaxing the muscle tissue, it’s also easier to get rid of any emotional tensions. Whether through intense exercise such as lifting weights or martial arts, swimming or team sports, or by expressing yourself in dance - moving will always help you discharge what's unnecesary, restore the flow of energy in your body and make you feel better.
It feels good to release the stress of the world. It's a reminder that there's more going on than the chaos around us. Meditation allows us to connect with infinite source and remember our essential nature. Finally, we sit down to come into the now and this helps us bring silence, serenity and clarity into our working day. To help you learn to meditate there is a free training app Headspace, also, I personally find brainwave entrainment technologies very helpful, such as another free app Brainwave Studio which removes distractions and enhances relaxation through sounds of nature and binaural beats.
If all of this fails, there are many other things you can do to cultivate mindfulness, and some of them are a bit more out there, like Osho's dynamic meditation, shamanic rituals, circling, ayahuasca etc. These can also be very powerful, and perhaps even provide a shortcut by reaching a non-ordinary state of consciousness. It's up to you to find your own individual approach. If you want to make a change, just start somewhere and DO something.
Follow these steps to being present, and it will certainly enhance your life. Even through your best efforts, unless you're a monk living somewhere in the mountains far away from the hustle and bustle, you probaly won't be able to stay fully present all of the time. Life happens, sometimes we have to put out fires, and for the overall progress of human race we often need some sense of urgency which inevitably comes with a bit of stress.
Nevertheless, consistent mindfulness practice will help you navigate those circumstances of life, protect your health, and make most of any opportunities when it really counts. Even if you just start with conscious awareness and 10-15 minute meditation every day. Keep rising up!
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