Are You Present?

25 Feb

Present Moment DaffodilHave you ever?

  • Walked away from your house, and then turned back to check that you did actually lock the front door?
  • Left your house, and then gone back inside to check you turned the gas ring off?
  • Finished reading a page of a book and realised you can’t recall what it said?
  • Cleaned  your teeth for a second time in a morning because  you don’t know if you’ve already done it today?
  • Parked your car and then run back to make sure you locked it? (Mr B’s favourite activity)
  • Gone for a walk and not noticed any of the colours that you’ve passed?

Surely this is not just me? Tell me it’s not just me!

My most extreme example in this regard took place about 6 years ago. I had left the house one morning and jumped on the bus to take me to the station. It was about a 10 minute ride. During that journey I was suddenly plagued with the thoughts of ‘did I lock the front door? Did I even close the front door’? So guess what I did when I reached the train station, where I would normally have changed onto a train to take me into central London? I got back on the bus and went home to check the status of the front door. I had of course closed and locked the door. I then had to wait 10 minutes for the bus to take me back to the station. I had missed my train and had to wait for the next one. Needless to say I was late for work that day!

I’m not sharing all this to make me out to be a completely forgetful crazy person. My memory is actually pretty good. I don’t think it actually has much, if anything, to do with memory.

No, I think it goes deeper than that.

The reason I ‘forget’ if I have done these routine tasks is that I am not mindful of doing them. I am not present in the moment when I am doing them. I am on autopilot. My body is doing it but my mind is elsewhere. My mind is off in the past rehashing and analysing some event that I can no longer change or it’s dancing forward in the future worrying and planning the minutiae of an activity still to come. My mind is anywhere but present in the here and now.

All this leads to increased stress. On the bus there were moments of acute panic where I struggled to remember if I had closed the door. Heart pounding  etc. But more than that there’s a latent layer of subconscious chronic stress constantly eating away at our health. Multi tasking is hard work. It is draining. And a lack of mindfulness is pure multitasking. Our brains are clever but they can’t be mindful about more than one thing at once.

Yes we lead busy lives, with all of us trying to juggle many different balls. But there is only one moment. This moment, right this second is all we actually have.

We can only do one thing in each moment. So as you move from moment to moment, jumping from one activity to the next, be present on that one thing. Be mindful. One moment, one focus. It won’t slow you down or hold you back. It will actually enhance your productivity and efficiency by making you calmer, more clear headed and more focused.

Mindfulness and present moment awareness of course originate in the realm of meditation and mindfulness meditation is wonderful. I encourage you to take the time to sit and meditate. It has helped me enormously. But if in response to that you scoff and say ‘pah! I don’t have the time to meditate,’ then try flipping it round and aim to be more mindful in your every day tasks instead. Every little helps after all. It doesn’t have to be confined to the meditation mat (and incidentally if you do mediate you will find that over time you naturally become more mindful in everyday life anyway).

Mindfulness and present moment awareness are very simple concepts. Be fully present in the current moment. Be conscious of what you are doing in  THIS moment. Focus on the task in hand right now. Nothing more, nothing less. Simple yet amazingly effective. They can have profound effects on our health and happiness.

So why not give it a try?

Before continuing with your day, take a few seconds right now to mindfully embrace this moment. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and focus purely on your breathing, the replenishing inhale filling your lungs and the soothing exhale as you let it all go.

Now go forth back to your day, taking a little more present moment awareness with you.

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8 Responses to “Are You Present?”

  1. Plum February 25, 2016 at 8:30 am #

    Love this, just today I drove to the top of the street only to rush back inside to make sure I’ve remembered to turn hair straightener off, other days it could be did I turn the alarm on, did I lock the door, I wonder why it stresses me out so much I’m torn between thoughts of knowing I did but the irrational thoughts that I have to go back and check. I try to get the kids to help me I say be my witness this is off or locked and don’t let me turn around and come back home to check it. I wonder if I take some crazy pleasure in being stressed out! I’m going to apply this be in the present and see how I go. I also sometimes sing a song like I saw in a movie “the hair straightener is off da na na na the door is locked da na na na and that helps too when I’m not to rushed and have time to remember to sing it haha.

    • myjourneythrume March 4, 2016 at 8:49 am #

      Thank you Plum 🙂 Hair straighteners are another favourite of mine to have to rush back into the house to check! I love the idea of your song, anything to make you focus on what you’re doing in that moment that works for you is great! Hope you’re finding yourself more present 🙂

  2. Plum February 25, 2016 at 8:30 am #

    Love this, just today I drove to the top of the street only to rush back inside to make sure I’ve remembered to turn hair straightener off, other days it could be did I turn the alarm on, did I lock the door, I wonder why it stresses me out so much I’m torn between thoughts of knowing I did but the irrational thoughts that I have to go back and check. I try to get the kids to help me I say be my witness this is off or locked and don’t let me turn around and come back home to check it. I wonder if I take some crazy pleasure in being stressed out! I’m going to apply this be in the present and see how I go. I also sometimes sing a song like I saw in a movie “the hair straightener is off da na na na the door is locked da na na na and that helps too when I’m not to rushed and have time to remember to sing it haha.

  3. thehomeschoolingdoctor March 2, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    This is great! I appreciate the part where you mention as I find time to become mindful/meditate, it starts seeping into life more and more naturally. Because it doesn’t come natural at first! But I keep practicing. It feels nice!

    • myjourneythrume March 4, 2016 at 8:53 am #

      I’ve found it to be a slow drip drip process, odd at first but it does become to feel more and more right. And the more you do it the more results you see, and the more addictive it becomes 🙂

      • thehomeschoolingdoctor March 4, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

        I know what you mean about the “addictive!” But it makes one feel better! And I like to feel good!

      • thehomeschoolingdoctor March 4, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

        (Naturally, that is!!!!)

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