With the holiday season upon us, we may be thinking about presents. Exchanging presents has been a long-time tradition in many cultures and faiths. We may be so caught up in buying presents for others, trying to decide on just what the right gift would be for someone, choosing to start gift ideas early or waiting until just before an event, and even buying some presents for ourselves along the way. But the word ‘present’ not only has meaning related to an offering or gift which we present or give. The word ‘present’ also refers to being attentive, giving attention to the current moment. This is a gift we can truly give to others and to ourselves. To be present in the sense of attentiveness, means to be in the current moment--looking, listening and feeling with one’s total being. Very often we go through life without paying attention to our surroundings. We tend to go on automatic pilot at times. Our thoughts may be in the future or in the past, not paying attention to what is before us at a given moment. When we do this, we can miss out on a lot. The now is the only moment that really counts. It’s the moment of connection—connecting with ourselves, others, nature, our own breath. When we are present to the moment, we can hear what others are communicating, we can feel our emotions, we can notice and appreciate all the beauty around us. When we pay attention, and remain present, we become better acquainted with ourselves. We can begin to recognize where we are working out of automatic programs which may not be serving us. You may be wondering how to be present. There are practices you can do to train yourself to be more present. The following are some suggested practices for becoming more present: 1)Using the breath—find a quiet place to sit and just notice your breathing. Without trying to control it, just pay attention to your inhales and your exhales. The breath gives us life. Each breath is the most important one. Each moment is the most important one. Do this practice for at least 5 minutes every day. 2)Meditation—a regular practice of meditation can bring your awareness to the present moment not only during the time spent in meditation, but it can train you to be more fully present in all you do. This is a daily practice which will bring you many rewards.
3) Engage your senses—
a—Look—notice the things around you. Really look at each object-your hand, a tree, the table. What is the color, the shape, the pattern? Immerse your visual sense fully.
b—Listen—there are often many sounds all around us that we tune out. Tune in to the subtle and the not-so-subtle sounds. Single out one sound at a time and really listen to it. It may be the sound of your breathing or the sound of a lawn mower in the distance. Focus on each sound, listening intently with all your attention.
c—Feel—select an object and touch it. Is it soft, rough, cool? Does it have a vibration? Now bring your awareness inward. Feel your emotions. Are you feeling happy, peaceful, worried? Without analyzing, just notice the feelings in your body.
d—Taste—so often we eat without being fully conscious. Take a piece of food and chew it s-l-o-w-l-y. Savor all the flavor it holds. Is it tart, sweet, hard to chew? Notice all the qualities in that piece of food. Become a conscious eater. This means eating without reading, watching television, talking or any other activity. Your digestive system will also benefit.
e—Smell—Choose a fragrant object and really breathe it in. Is the smell pleasant or repulsive? Is it strong or mild? Fully engage your sense of smell.
Practicing present awareness will help you in all areas of your life. When you stop multi-tasking, and are present to your feelings and surroundings, you will experience better decision making. Less energy will be spent as you become less scattered in your thinking and being. When you slow down you can engage all your senses and make the most of your time on this Earth. Being present is a gift to humanity. It is a true present for yourself and others. With intention and commitment, you can train yourself to be fully present in each situation. Slowing down and becoming present to the moment at hand is imperative to living a better life! Blessings,
Denise & Carole