August 14, 2015

5 Tips to Being Present

How often in our daily lives are we multi-tasking and looking at our phones while having a conversation with someone, taking care of business while eating, or texting while driving? When we finish a meal, can we say that we took the time to chew each bite into a fine paste, and are we aware of the different tastes, textures and ingredients that were in our food? When we drive somewhere, are we aware of what's happening around us, or are we on auto-pilot solely relying on our GPS to tell us where to exit, then find that we still missed the exit? I'm pretty sure most of us can raise our hands in acceptance that we've experienced moments like these. At 10pm, reflecting on our day, do we even remember what we did?

When we are preoccupied and trying to multi-task, are we really experiencing the moment? There's the saying, "Life is about the journey, not the destination." From the perspective of being in the fitness industry, often times we see people who are so focused on hitting a number that they don't even recognize the other changes like having more self-confidence, balanced hormones, better sleep, more endurance, less stress, and so on. Or have you ever cheated yourself to achieve a goal to find that you only felt empty handed in the end?

"The way you do anything is the way you do everything."


5 Tips to Being Present

  1. Observe. Whether you're in a yoga pose or doing a set at the gym, pause and observe. How do you feel? What is your breath doing? If you stop at a light, pause. Look at your surroundings. Feel your body. Are you gripping the steering wheel? When you're sitting at your desk, where are your shoulders? What's your posture doing?

  2. Breathe. You don't need to go to a yoga class to connect to your breath, although if one is accessible, go! Our breath is the most accessible tool that we have in our pockets at all times that can shift our awareness into the present moment, while shifting our nervous system into parasympathetic mode. Set a couple minutes aside while your coffee is brewing, on your lunch break, or at bedtime to breathe deeply.
  3.  Make eye contact. The eyes are the windows to our soul so connect with someone. Smile.
  4. Start a gratitude list. At the end of the day, write down 5 things you are grateful for. Being grateful shifts us into the present and connects us to something that feels good.
  5. Connect to nature. Go for a walk, look at the trees, smell the flowers, play in the dirt, go to the beach, or visualize something in nature that makes you happy. There are many scientific studies that show that being in nature reduces stress, but do the study yourself. Go outside and play.

For more mindfulness tips, check out the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh. His book, Peace is Every Step was a game changer in my life some 20 yrs ago.