In my last Blog, I talked about how we have Everything We Need inside of us, but often we have challenges to understanding and getting what we Need. One of the challenges is simply not being Present to our lives. In this Blog, I wanted to talk about learning to stay more Present to our lives and building Awareness of our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations (TFPS) as they are happening in the moment. This Awareness will help us understand what we Need and figure out how to get it in the healthiest ways.
Often, we run around on auto-pilot, careening through our days, trying to multi-task, stressing about the next thing we have to do while doing the current thing. There is so much “input” these days, from our work responsibilities, caretaking kids/ill spouses/aging parent/pets etc, caring for our homes, planning our social lives, finances/bills, any community service or hobbies that we are trying to fit in, constant input from our devices…the list goes on. Notice I did not mention self-care, which is a whole category in itself. It’s not much of a mystery why we are anxious, overwhelmed and unwell. And often, this leads to using “substances” (food, alcohol, tobacco, shopping, scrolling etc) to “numb out” the stress.
The solution to all of this is complex and multi-faceted but I believe that using the tools of Mindfulness can really help us heal a lot of these issues. And Mindfulness starts with being Present in the moment and building Awareness of what is going on. It’s very difficult to be Present when you are on auto-pilot or your brain is racing with thoughts. Have you ever driven somewhere and realize you have no idea how you got there (and then prayed you didn’t run a red light)? Or come out of a store and have NO idea where you parked? You are most likely not suffering from dementia, but rather, suffering from lack of staying Present in the moment. It’s not that you forgot where you parked, it’s that you were never really Aware of where you parked to begin with.
We can begin to change this pattern by:
1. Committing to the desire and goal of being more Present in the moment.
2. Find one or two small areas of your life that you will work on this. For instance, when you are in the shower, you can practice feeling the water on your skin, smelling the soap, hearing the sound of the water etc. Or while doing the dishes, stay really present to picking up each dish, rinsing it, placing it in the dishwasher. You can even say to yourself “I’m rinsing this plate, I’m putting it in this slot in the dishwasher, I’m picking up the next plate” etc. Talking yourself through simple activities and engaging your senses is a great way to stay Present and build Awareness.
3. Meditation is also a very helpful (I’d even say essential) way to learn to bring yourself into the present moment. When we meditate, TFPS always come into our busy minds. Meditation teaches us to acknowledge the TFPS and let them float away, coming back to our breath and our bodies time and time again. With practice, we can learn to do this even when we are not meditating. When we are doing a task and Notice that we are worrying about the next task, we can take a breath, Notice the worry but let it float away and come back to our bodies and the task at hand.
As we begin to stay more Present to our lives, building Awareness of our TFPS, we can begin to build more tools around using our Awareness to find what we Need. In my next Blog, I will talk about non-judgement and compassion for whatever we become Aware of. Have fun practicing being more Present!! You can reach out to me here if you want to discuss!