This article is for anyone wanting to take control of their life and create a life they love, enjoy and are inspired by. A life that is truly beautiful!!
action #3: be present
Are you struggling with mental chatter or struggling to keep focussed?
Do you feel like you are sitting in the passenger seat of your life and life is happening to you?
Do you feel like life keeps passing you by?
I know the feeling! Let’s take back control of our lives now by being present!
why we need to be present
Often the stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, anger or frustration (etc) that we feel is tied to our thoughts about our past or the plethora of possibilities for our future. We spend so much time agonising over these, distracting ourselves from our current circumstances. Other times we deal with these same thought patterns by simply not checking in at all with our bodies, our feelings and our thoughts and go about our lives like a pin ball mindlessly ricocheting from one experience to the next, without any charge over where we are heading and why.
As Eckhart Tolle explores in his book The Power of Now when we worry over past mistakes and what the future will hold, we forget to fully experience this very moment - we forget to BE PRESENT. Eckhart points out how... silly... this is when the only moment we ever have guaranteed is the very moment we are experiencing right now. Why wouldn't we direct all our attention and intention to this moment then?!
what does being present look like?
When we practise presence we shift our attention to the NOW. This involves becoming mindful or aware of:
- how your body is feeling
- what thoughts you are having
- what you can smell
- what you can taste
- what you can hear
- what you can see
- what you are doing; and
- why you are doing it.
You slow down, you become more aware and you act with more intention.
By becoming present, we are better able to listen to the cues our body gives us to let us know when something is right or wrong, when we need more or less of something and when something energises or drains us. We are able to align our body and mind with the intuitive, higher, peaceful, loving and intentional part of us.
Being present seems like a simple concept, however because of the speed of our lives, the amount of information & demands we have flying at us every second of the day and the years of programming our brains have had preoccupying our minds with thoughts about the future and past, being present is much harder than you might think.
So how do we 'be present'?
Practising presence is a great tool to connect you to your higher self, your purpose, your inspiration and to free you from years of unconscious programming and mental chatter. One of the most important aspects of being present, is building awareness.
One of the best known tools for practising presence is meditation. Meditation helps us improve our focus, build awareness and allows us to take back control of our minds from our mostly unconscious and automatic thought processes which as we discussed last week can easily take over our lives if we let them! We become more mindful and intentional through the practice of meditation.
There are many meditation techniques, but the most common ones will have you focus on either a movement, a mantra, the breath or a visualisation. Meditation techniques are not designed to distract you from your thoughts, in fact, it is a common misconception that you should not have any thoughts during meditation.
Meditation is all about driving a wedge of awareness between you and your thoughts. It is about becoming aware of and separating yourself from your thoughts. Your point of focus is simply an anchor to bring you back into the present moment should you lose your way.
Let's have a go now and try it!
Action #3 to Create a Life that is Beautiful
Over the next week I want you to set aside 5 to 15 minutes every day where you can be in a quiet space, uninterrupted and relax. You can either do this on your own (instructions below) or feel free to use a meditation app such as Headspace (you get a free 10 day trial when you sign up), Insight Timer (which has hundreds of guided meditations available and you can connect with friends and strangers while you meditate) or by using youtube to watch a meditation video (there will be thousands of them).
For the exercise below, I have adopted a number of the techniques taught by Headspace which I highly recommend for people just starting out. Be warned however, finding a meditation practice that resonates with you, will be different for everyone. Please don't give up just because one practice does not resonate. Try as many as possible until you find one that works.
o Put on a timer for 5 to 15 minutes and either sit or lie in a position where you are comfortable to stay for the duration of the exercise without moving.
o Take 5 deep slow breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, before closing your eyes.
o Continue breathing in and out, this time through your nose only and with your eyes shut.
o With your eyes closed and you continuing to breathe in and out through your nose, take a few moments to pay attention to the noises around you – what can you hear? Are there birds chirping, the sound of a lawn mower, the sound of your fridge vibrating or a clock ticking? Can you notice any smells? What is your mood today? How are you feeling? Do a full body scan from head to toe noticing any sensations in the body and notice where your body connects with the ground or chair.
o For the rest of the time you should simply sit, breathing in and out as you were through your nose, focusing on your breath with your eyes closed. During this time you will have thoughts come into your mind automatically. They will just “pop” in there. Instead of responding to a thought with more thoughts, I want you to simply notice the thought and watch as it passes by. Imagine the thought passing by and you placing it into the basket of a red hot air balloon and watch the thought as it sails away into the distance. Turn your attention back to your breathe, in and out.
o When your timer goes off, slowly open your eyes.
How do you feel now? My guess is you have a little more peace of mind than before the exercise.
The benefits of meditation have been demonstrated in plenty of studies, businesses have implemented mindfulness and meditation practices and spaces and even... the government (in some places like the UK) is now taking it seriously.
Meditation trains you to increase your awareness of all that is occurring in the present moment, including your thoughts and through that awareness allow your thoughts to pass without responding to them. You create distance and space from all the mental chatter by becoming aware of it. As Eckhart says, you become"the silent watcher of your thoughts". As you try meditation you will begin to see just how automatic our thinking is. Through meditating you build your muscle of awareness which further gives you the power to change your thoughts and feelings as we discussed last week in Action #2.
Many of the world’s most successful people swear by a daily meditation practice. And in a world where everything is so instant, having a meditation practice which separates us from all of our automatic and mostly unconscious mental chatter is sooooo important! You do not need to be a victim to your thoughts!
You can also try moving meditations, yoga, walking, running, Kundalini Yoga, sitting in nature or simply consciously taking time to be more mindful throughout your day-to-day activities. For example, by taking regular breaks to check in with your body, your thoughts, your surroundings and by being fully present in meetings or catch ups you have with friends, colleagues, family members or strangers. A wonderful book to read about your flow state is Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
To increase presence in my life, I:
- do a 10-20 minute meditation practice every morning as soon as I wake up (right after I do my Five Minute JournalI).
- practise yoga almost every day for 30 to 40 minutes (following a Yoga with Adriene video or doing a self-guided practice at home)
- take a walk or run
- for breathe work, I highly recommend Kundalini Yoga practices - check out some of these in Britt & Tara of High Vibe Livin's 7 day challenge or on Gabby Bernstein's website.
Need more help understanding awareness and presence? Take a look at this short video here.
Being present shifts your awareness to the now, rather than the past or future. Practising presence, through exercises like meditation, will increase your awareness and provide some separation between the mind and your thoughts. As we discussed last week, the benefits of becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions is that it gives you the power to completely change your reality.
This is the path to living a life of greater purpose and fulfillment and to bringing more love, peace, joy and inspiration into your life. Do yourself a favour and give yourself this time and love!
So lovely people, please join me this week in setting aside 5-15 minutes each day to incorporate a daily meditation (like the one I have set out above) so that you can start taking back control of your mind, your body and your beautiful life! Take this time and watch yourself reap the benefits!
And remember, I want to know how you are doing so please keep me updated on how you are finding this exercise. I care and appreciate you :-)
If you have any friends who would resonate with this article or who might like to join you this week in trying meditation, please share this article with them.
You are worthy and wonderful, with so much to contribute to the world! We all have unique skills, abilities and interests and I wholeheartedly believe that by embracing those, finding your platform and choosing love, joy and inspiration along the way you make the world a better place. :-)
Join me next week for Action #4 which is all about self-love. Make sure you don't miss out by subscribing to receive my weekly newsletter below.
Lots of love,