Being Present

The greatest defense against passivity, mediocrity, and ambivalence might be presencing. The guru on being present, Peter Senge, in Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Society, and Organizations, states “Too often, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.”

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But it takes muscle and determination to break our evolutionary responses of fight or flight – neither of which live, well, in the moment. As we simply react rather than rest in and reflect on the circumstances, we reinforce habitual behavior (hear certainty) that stifles or worse strangles curiosity and learning.

While most of the time we aren’t in the kind of danger that requires the amygdala response I, frankly, suck at being present. My tendency is to live through time rather than in it. I am looking towards the next moment, the next appointment, the next thing. My attention drifts because I practice distraction instead of attention. Most people I encounter, from 7-year-old grandchildren to 30 something postmoderns are seeking the next stimulus and then the next. We bypass opportunities in favor of a new fix. Technology and social media have been built to serve this pathology through a nasty co-dependent relationship. I, like so many, spend far too much time seeking the next thing; a like, a friend, a thumbs up, an emoji. According to a post on Networlding says ” We’re obsessed with our phones, a new study has found. The heaviest smartphone users click, tap or swipe on their phone 5,427 times a day, according to researcher Dscout. That’s the top 10 percent of phone users, so one would expect it to be excessive. However, the rest of us still touch the addictive things 2,617 times a day on average. No small number.”
Fight or flight becomes swipe or click with the same consequence; we are missing the moments and the world is spinning past us. Can I intentionally become be more present?
I have written before about the importance of breathing and awareness of breath as an important factor in preparing to live in the now. Recognizing that you involuntarily sustain life through the inhalation and expiration of air should be a dotted line to understanding the miracle of your life. When you ‘marine breathe’ – inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds and remain empty for four seconds, your awareness of each tick as it passes is heightened and is a primer to focus.
I use a couple of exercises to help me stay in the moment. I narrow my view. From the cacophony that is our world, I find stillness and silence. There is a place just behind our attitude, feelings, and prejudices where peace precedes the noise and business of the world. It is in your head and in your heart and regardless of your surroundings, it can be discovered. In the moments leading into a new engagement, a personal discussion, or when I am aware that I need to be prepared, I close my eyes and become aware of the sensation of my own physical presence, my body’s weight,(where am I tense in my sit muscles? am I grounded and sitting erect?). I return to my breath and feel it on the inside of my nostrils. Where does it go when I breathe in? Is there a particular part of my body that is uncomfortable or fidgety? I imagine my breath flowing out to the distractions and calming the sea. If I can envelop myself in an internal silence and stillness for as little as two minutes before a difficult meeting, I can use the energy to stay focused for almost an hour.

After a scheduled discussion or difficult coaching session, I leave a five-minute window to recuperate. I turn my intention back on me. I try to pay attention to what m mind is contemplating. Am I blathering? feeling joy? am I exhausted? I try not to get involved in creating a solution, just observe my own mind in action. If I can give myself permission to take these few minutes for my personal well-being, I am a better coach, consultant, husband, father, and grandfather. If I deny myself the break, I will present a much less interested, compassionate and attentive person because I will be in the room but living someplace else.

Make Today Remarkable, by pracicing presencing,
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Again this is an easy to say and harder to do practice but I guarantee that if you honestly try it for a week, you will make it a constsnt habit.

First Step

The first step in any change, any adventure, any relationship is often the hardest to take (not the hardest to do). The second step isn’t much  easier but by the time you get to 3,4,5 you will have created some momentum and even the most difficult steps get easier.

The first step and the hardest in moving from Mired, Mediocre and Miserable to BBM or SSS is to simultaneously believe in yourself and surrender to a higher power. The paradox is achieved by beginning to breathe again. Breath is the restorer, the calmer, the life giver. Breathing clears your mind, opens your heart and creates a glimmer of possibility. Breathing makes everything else possible and yet because it is usually involuntary we give it no consideration.

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Today’s first step and the first step you should take first thing every day is breathing. Greg Richardson (The Spiritual Monk) says “We breathe in, and fresh air fills our lungs. We pause to receive. We acquire the oxygen we need for our hearts, minds, and bodies to continue working. Our sense of smell connects the world around us with the world within us. We breathe out, providing nutrients to the plants around us. We release tensions and toxins, letting go of what is not healthy for us to hold in ourselves. Our breathing reflects the steps we take inward and back out into the world on our spiritual journeys each day.”

Have you forgotten how to breathe? The simplest practice is known as ‘equal breathing’. You should strive to carve 10 minutes out of your day to practice but today begin with 2 minutes. Stand tall or sit up straight. Imagine a string from the top of your head being lifted slightly. Close your eyes or short focus. Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4. 1,2,3,4 and exhale through your nose to 4. Repeat. After 15 times in and 15 times out you should feel calmer and some of the stress in your life will melt. That’s it for today.

Small step that is hard to take. As you progress to a longer cycle and longer intervals you will find a match to your rhythm that will be your daily breathing practice.

 

Make Today Remarkable, by breathing,

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