I’ll admit, the first time I read about the power of being “present” I thought it was a bit conspicuous. I was so distracted by my opinions that I couldn’t see beyond the physicality of presence.
It wasn’t until I watched a Super Soul Sunday interview with Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn on this topic I realized how little I was present in my day to day life. He used a simple exercise to illustrate the concept and challenged, “the next time you are in the shower, check and make sure you are in the shower”. I chuckled.
It took a few mornings for me to remember to check. Sure enough, I wasn’t in the shower. Mentally, I was in a meeting I had later that day. After all, it was going to be a difficult call and I had to prepared. I did this exercise for a few consecutive days, becoming more aware of my thoughts. I was obsessing over my day, planning my grocery list, remembering what I forgot to do the day before.
When it became clear that I was really never in the shower, I turned off the craziness in my head and let my meetings wait for me at my desk. It was only then that it hit me that millions don’t even have clean running water. Let alone the water at the perfect temperature and a loofa full of suds that I was taking for granted every morning.
This simple morning ritual of being present and grateful led to tremendous growth over the past couple of years. Over time I’ve learned that there is an infinite span of regret from past decisions or anxiety around future obstacles if I choose to let my mind live in that space. These are some of the tactics I use to reel myself back into the present moment:
Music: Obviously, there is a time and a place to crank your favorite playlist, but it almost always clears the mind. Throw on your buds and get lost for a while.
Meditation: Anybody who’s anybody in the personal development world will tell you the one thing fulfilled people have in common is a practice of mindfulness or meditation. Many choose to assume the meditation position (legs crossed, thumb to finger), but don’t be intimidated; there are many ways to quieten your thoughts like prayer, exercise or being one with nature. Find the method that works for you and enjoy the clarity.
Listening: As an extravert with a dominant personality, it takes discipline to listen with a purpose. Listen to relate and to understand, not just respond. The only caveat here is to be selective and surround yourself with sources of wisdom and growth.
Be present. Don’t miss the scenery around you because you’re looking in the rear-view mirror or worrying about traffic ahead. Roll your windows down and cruise…till the next time, enjoy the ride!