Embracing the Now—Choosing Presence

If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply. – Thich Nhat Hahn

Modern life can take our minds away from experiencing the present moment. Binge watching TV, getting lost in apps (Instagram, Strava, whatever), paying so much attention to taking pictures that we miss the special occasion we’re documenting are some of the things that distract us from the present moment. It’s not like watching TV, using apps or taking pictures are terrible in themselves—it is when we engage in these things to the point where we are not present to our lives—or we wish we could stop, but feel trapped in our habits. There are times when we want to be distracted from a stressful day or just want to chill. When that distraction takes us away from what we value or truly need, we may want to take a different approach.

One client had the goal of building greater awareness of the present and so I asked her, “what’s so important about living in the present moment?” And she said, “I just want to be able to remember my life.” What she so poignantly realized was that if she did not actually pay attention to the present, she would never be able to remember the pieces that made up her life. Another client told me about his app that recorded the amount of vertical he skied on any given day and his recognition that what he actually wanted to do was to pay deep attention to each run and the pleasure of being with his friends–to truly savor the joy of skiing as if each run was his last. He recognized that the app was pointing his attention in one direction (amount of vertical) but that wasn’t what was most important to him.

It’s all about consciously choosing what we most want to pay attention to and experience. When we are clear about what is most important to us at a big-picture level as well as in any given moment, we can then notice where we are directing our attention and if it is in alignment with what we want for ourselves. When we become aware that our attention and actions are taking us away from what is most important to us, we can make a different decision. For example, if we value having good relationships but notice that we often allow ourselves to multitask while interacting with those we love, we can pause our distractions and show up for the relationship.

Choosing presence in our busy lives with all its distractions can be hard work, but it’s not impossible. It’s about noticing the choices we make and whether they are moving us toward the life we most want. Working with a coach is a great way to build the “mental muscle” to be more present and reap the benefits of presence. If you enjoyed this blog please “like” and/ or repost!

© Anne Garing, PhD & Peg Hunt, MS

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