Presence. Not Presents. Although, those are nice too. However, now that the gift-giving holidays have mostly passed, it’s time to reset.
I’m not talking about New Years Resolutions. I’m not talking about any resolutions. Just the idea of coming back to our centers.
What is presence? It’s simply the act of being present. And yet this “simple” act is quite difficult for most of us. We are constantly running a million miles a minute. If not physically, then mentally. We have to-do lists pages long, and growing. We’re reliving the fight from last week and planning next week’s grocery list.
What is on your mind right now? What takes us away from our center? It’s all the little things that we have going on. Our goals, our dreams, our frustrations. Maybe it’s the stress of our upcoming project pitch at work. The winter blues as we look out our office window and see a night sky at just 5:00PM. Or the anticipation of upcoming news. Everything shoots in and out of our brains at once. Causing us to give some focus to each thought, but nothing gets our full focus. We really are not capable of sincerely multitasking.
Don’t get me wrong. There are people who walk among us that are superhuman in their abilities. The first set that comes to mind is mothers. They are the epitome of multitasking. And they do it beyond belief. But, when we multitask, each task gets subpar efforts. And while they each may get completed, they are not done to the best of our abilities. Of course there are times when doing everything at once is necessary (see above reference to mothers). But when we can help it, we shouldn’t.
“Chop wood, carry water.”
Remember how I told you I don’t like the word balance? Unless it has to do with physical balance, then I’m all over it. But when it comes to our daily lives? No thank you. I don’t want all things in my life to get the same attention and appreciation. I don’t want to weigh the scales and see that things are equal. I don’t think it’s realistic. I don’t think it’s fair to the things that should matter the most to us. And I definitely don’t think it’s healthy for any of us.
So what do we do when our kids are screaming for homework help. Our work demands overtime hours next week. When the news in our papers and on TV is unsettling. When the weather outside is making us dream of vacations. And then those dreams make us reevaluate our financial situations. When our financial situations leave us worried. And that worry drives us deeper into our stress and work. How do we stop the cycle?
At the end of the day, we have 24 hours. Each of us. Everyday. We don’t get extra. And we don’t get do-overs. We get 24 hours. And, please don’t forget that you NEED your sleep at night. Worrying will neither make our tasks complete faster, or our stress lighten. It won’t make us relax or feel accomplished. Instead it makes everything worse.
I know. Just like presence, breathing is one of those “simple” tasks. We do it without thought. Without effort. We sleep through the night and wake up every morning because we are breathing. We make it through the day conscious because we are breathing. It should be so easy, right?
If we first ignore the notion that these tasks are easy, then maybe we can bring them better into our lives.
Remind yourself that breathing is the best way to calm down. When our stressors are triggered, our breathing changes. Instead of full breaths that fill our lungs. We begin breathing rapidly and shallowly. We are no longer getting maximum oxygen into our system and our stressors stay triggered. Our brains continue to tell our bodies that we need to stay in this alert state. But, when we breathe deeply, we immediately tell our brains we can slow down. We can reverse those breathing changes and come back to a calm and relaxed state. We can control this.
When the phone is ringing, but you’re trying to complete an email, your coffee is already cold and you have three deadlines coming up. Stop. And breathe.
You can stress and worry about getting to all of that. Or, you can be here. Be present.
It doesn’t mean ignoring what needs to be done. It doesn’t mean running away to escape the looming deadlines. But it means you’re going to focus on this one task that needs to be completed. And then, you will move on to the next one. You’re not going to worry, and you’re not going to try and do them all at once. You are going to breathe and be present.
When we are present, we can handle our problems. Being present allows us handle our distractions. It allows everything else to move to the side as you do the one thing you need to do right now.
Like I said, we know this isn’t easy. And some days, it’s even less easy than others. But, it’s worth training ourselves to do it. It takes time and consistency. But, once we start to practice something new, it becomes part of our daily habit. And that can change everything for us.
Being present isn’t just about accomplishing tasks. It’s also about enjoying the moment you’re in. So when your kiddos are showing you their classwork. Or your best friend is telling you about their day. Be there. Don’t think about your grocery lists or your deadlines. Give those people you love your attention. And take the time to do the same for yourself. Be present with yourself.
“In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just being.” -Eckhart Tolle
Take a few moments to breathe. Evaluate your to-do list. And choose the one task that needs to be done now. Not 10, just one.
I look forward to hearing from you – let’s get you started on being your best self!
Yours in health and harmony,