by Jenn Bodnar | August 7, 2014 9:30 am
Ask a yogi to describe what it means to be present and you will hear words like breathe, connect, accept, see, feel and observe. Others will tell you to simply just live in the moment. Sounds pretty easy, right? Think again! More and more studies are showing that we, as a society, are more distracted than ever and that focus and being present has become a huge challenge in all aspects of our lives! Other more recent studies have shown that even in this day of modern conveniences, everyday tasks are taking longer to accomplish.
While remaining focused can be difficult there are some practices we can incorporate into each day to be more present, live fuller lives and truly enjoy our surroundings and the possibilities that live in each moment.
1. Do one thing at a time. According to Psychology Today, human beings are incapable of multi-tasking. When I find myself attempting this impossible goal, I like to say I’m screwing up multiple things at once. It’s true. Say you’re cooking dinner and doing laundry while you’re on the phone with your mom. She starts to tell you a really interesting story and has your full attention. You walk away from the stove to put the wash into the dryer, only to find the dryer has dry clothes in it that need to be removed so you take them out and mindlessly start folding. Before you know it the smoke alarm is going off and a day later you realize you never got the wet clothes into the dryer and now they have to be re-washed. This saves no time! Do one thing REALLY well and you only have to do it once!
2. Make Eye Contact. It can be awkward. We are programmed to zone into our devices at every given chance (more about that to come…) than to lock eyes with those real life, human beings right in our face. It happens on elevators, trains and planes. How many times has a checkout person asked how you’re doing and you answer without any thought or eye contact, continuing to unload your groceries, distracted by a conversation you had earlier in the day? We really are all here to connect, we share the same air and space and you never know what kind of relationship or opportunity lies in every encounter we make. When I was in college I remember having to wait in a really long line to make some schedule changes. The girl behind me started small talk. I had two choices: to answer briefly and move on or reciprocate the conversation. I chose the latter and she is someone I still consider a dear friend many years later. Chance encounters are not accidents! Pay attention! Look around you. Be here now!
3. Put your phone down. There is a lot of media attention being given to the mobile device tragedy of our time. For many, our cel phones have almost become the replacement of a good friend. We research feelings we’re having, check stats on any topic or forum and simply plug in to the cyber world of social media out of habit and boredom. We have music and email, stock reports and bill paying…anything you can imagine is at our finger tips. I recently heard a story that it takes longer to go out to eat these days not because people are slowing down to enjoy every bite and embrace the good company around them, but rather because everyone spends so much time on their phones it drags out the ordering process. Unbelievable! Turn off the tv, turn off the laptop, detach and make some connection.
4. Meditate. The quieter you become the more you can hear. ~ Ram Dass. They say in order to love others you must first love yourself. The same can be said for connection. The better you are able to connect with your own emotions, feelings and sensations the better you will be able to relate to the world around you. Take some time, even if only a few short minutes a day and just. be. still. Slow down. Breathe. Notice. Take a yoga class. Chances are you won’t get away with any technology getting into the yoga studio. It’s like a one hour vacation! Meditation of some form is always a part of every yoga class. If you can’t get to class, sit in your room, your office, outside, in your car (in the park position please) and meditate. Close your eyes, listen to the breath and be. This will help silence the chitter chatter in your head when someone is talking to you.
5. Practice Gratitude. This is a big one. A daily gratitude practice can have many benefits. For being present purposes, it helps to keep us in the moment. It’s easy to be sad or bitter about past upsets. We tend to get anxious and impatient about what’s to come; the future. If you can make mental list of things going really well for you right now, you can learn to accept and enjoy the present moment. All possiblity lives in each moment. We only get so many. Be grateful when you wake, be grateful for long lines, be grateful for the counter person helping your get your tasks accomplished and be grateful for every moment. Be grateful for where you are because it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Practice some of these guidelines today. Whether it be with random people you come into contact with or your close family and friends. Everything takes practice. To Be more present and show up to your life is no exception. If you can be more engaged in your life, life will be more engaged in you!
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