The Art of Being Present

Themes arise in life like motifs in literature. They exist to catch our attention, teach lessons, prompt self-reflection. One such theme in recent weeks has been presence. Unfortunately, I am not present most of the time. It is far too easy for me to pass hours online, text while at the table with friends, read while eating, or remain lost in thought while holding a conversation. Here are a few thoughts on how to remain present, resisting the temptation to "plug in" and "tune out." Any other suggestions? Leave a comment.

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/487583?rpp=20&pg=2&gallerynos=700&rndkey=20140430&ao=on&ft=*&pos=33
How do we put barriers on our experience?

The Art of Being Present is...

...looking someone in the eyes when they are speaking to you.

...listening with full attention, rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak.

...enjoying time with family and friends without cell-phones, computers or TV.

...enjoying time with YOURSELF without cell-phones, computers or TV.

...listening to your body as you eat; how does your food make you feel? Hyper, heavy, bloated, over-stuffed, or balanced, fresh and energized? Being in touch with your body in this way can help you make healthy choices.

...when you eat, just eat! For at least one meal per day (ideally each meal), resist urge to read, text or watch TV. Pay attention to the food you are eating, the textures, colors, giving thanks for your food and your ability to take in nourishment. This technique can help slow down the eating process, facilitating good digestion and preventing over-eating, which is an unconscious act. 

...checking in with yourself and how you feel, especially when you get grumpy (like me)!

...accepting yourself at this moment, including your perceived faults. Taking stock of your assets and weaknesses without spoiling or punishing yourself.

Spending Quality Time
...spending time with your children without a phone in hand. My friend's toddler once asked her, "Mommy, are you here for me, or for your phone?" Now she puts her phone away when she is with her little girl.

...paying attention to your body as you drink alcohol, caffeine or any mood enhancer, to that fine point where you feel good and can still function. And staying there. Be responsible for yourself in this way and social events can be more enjoyable for everyone.

...acknowledging thoughts, emotions, fears and fantasies, while recognizing them for what they are- constructs of your mind, not reality.

...riding your bike, walking, running, taking the train without listening to music or talking on the phone. Experience the sounds, sensations, the nature, the people and the city around you.

...using time while not on-line to do something just for you. Perhaps you can listen to your favorite music or read a book you like. Go outside for a walk, write an old-fashioned letter to a friend, do a drawing or write a short story. 

There are many self-nurturing things that you can do once you give them the space to blossom.

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