Be present, be present, be present.
We see and hear this often in self-help books and spiritual literature. For most of us, this isn’t enough—we need to “do” something—take some sort of action, or progress toward a goal. So the question becomes: WHY should I be present, and to WHAT?
Shifting our awareness to the present allows change to begin. A present-centered mind sheds anxiety and extra thoughts quickly and easily. This mental state then is transferred to the body, giving us physical comfort. Feeling satisfied in this way, we are not driven to other means of satisfaction—like eating. As we spend more and more time in this place, it becomes (surprisingly) obvious that this state is available to us at all times. We simply need to relax away from our conditioned behavior of not being present.
So, how does one move into the present moment? Watching the breath is a good method—observing the movement of the abdomen and ribcage—they expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Observing this automatic movement brings us into a state of rest and relaxation. Our nervous system shifts into a lower gear as we feel the world breathing us. We are reminded that in many ways we have no choice but to go with the flow.
Another useful method is to feel sensation against your skin. The keys under your fingertips or the pen in your hands. Feeling our feet on the floor for even 15 seconds a day is enough to make an impact. Feel your feet as you walk down the street and notice if the experience changes for you.
Presence is addictive and contagious, because it is at the very root of our nature. We are always (although often in a misguided manner) looking for it. We stay up late—eat too much—strive too hard—and forget to do what comes naturally to us—all to feel what simple presence to breath or sensation quickly retrieves for us.
For few weeks, experiment with these simple techniques and see if you experience a shift in your level of contentment.
As always, email me with comments and questions.
May we all be free and happy.