The practice of being present

Being present is a practice.

Just like judo or writing or meditation, being present takes some focus and some time and some energy. (Time, attention and energy are invaluable commodities in the endlessly distracted modern world.)

The practice of being present starts with a simple choice. A choice to be present, here and now.

There are so many things that will keep us from being present.

For me, as I mentioned in my TEDx talk, I spent so many years in a swirl of thoughts which brought me back to a multitude of past events I couldn’t change, and a multitude of possible futures I couldn’t control.

In my experience, there are three things that take us out of the present:

  • Regret about or some other negative focus on the past
  • Anxiety about the future
  • Distractions in the present (from our mobile phones to our imagination of alternative present realities like the projection of criticism or judgment into the minds of others)

Simply noticing when one of these states infringes on your thought patterns — when either the unchangeable past, the uncertain future or the unceasing distractions of the present moment sidle in to set you off balance — is very often all that’s needed to interrupt it.

Being conscious of the choice that’s available is powerful.

That choice is this.

To admit to ourselves that this moment is all we have and that we owe it to ourselves and everyone around us to breathe deep, open our eyes and be here fully, right now.