What does practicing yoga, indulging in spa treatments and tweeting all have in common? Presence. Being present means that you are focusing on what is happening in that exact moment – in the now. A connection between the three came to me yesterday as I pondered my love of them. Allow me to explain.
Yoga is about connecting our mind, body and spirit. As we practice yoga poses, or asanas, we focus on our breath and movement, all the while gently turning down the volume of our thoughts and becoming more present to how it feels to be in our body at that moment. Similarly, while relaxing on a massage table, we surrender to and focus on the blissful feeling of the masseuse’s hands kneading our tight muscles towards relaxation. Eyes are closed, the breath slows down and the feeling is so lovely that it’s hard not to engage in the present moment. Somehow, our hectic thoughts — poof — disappear.
In the social media world, Twitter asks us to share “What’s happening?” That question prompts us to answer what is happening now. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, not even five minutes ago. Twitter is about sharing what’s happening for us in that exact moment. For example, if I am currently reading a stellar blog post or article that I feel is worthwhile to share with my followers, I tweet about it at that exact moment. That’s pretty zen if you ask me.
Zen masters use the word satori to describe a flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence. Have you ever gazed up into the infinity of space on a clear night, awestruck by the by the absolute stillness and inconceivable vastness of it? Have you listened, truly listened, to the sound of a mountain stream in the forest? To become aware of such things, our minds needs to be still. Without realizing it, you’ve become completely present. Certainly, we can access this while experiencing nature but we also have the innate ability to access satori in our daily lives.
There are many benefits of living in the now. The practice of being present can increase efficiency, strengthen relationships, decrease stress and promote inner peace. Focusing on one task at a time will allow you to listen and engage with others with a steady and clear mind. By not zoning out (as we all tend to do from time to time), your brain will quickly process information and drive creativity. It will also help you build more meaningful relationships with others. In general, people who are living in the moment will easily pick up on whether you are being present or not. That alone is a reason to be more present.
The irony about understanding presence is you can’t think about it; it is being present. Just like when we practice yoga and meditation, thoughts inevitably creep into our minds. As soon as they do, instantly we are not present anymore. But it isn’t about reprimanding ourselves when this happens. Rather, simply notice your lack of presence and bring yourself back to what is happening…right…now.
The best part is we get to choose whether or not we are present with what we are doing. Practice being present in your daily life, whether it’s folding the laundry, reading a book to a child or writing a presentation. You might find that you enjoy the now more than you thought.
Yoga, spa and Twitter are just a few examples of how to live in the present. What tends to bring you into the present moment?