Ten Ways to be Present

If you are on any type of spiritual path, you will have heard it many times: be present, live in the now, focus on where you are. And it’s good advice. When we are fully focused on what’s in front of us, while still learning from the past and setting intentions for the future, we are truly engaged in the creation of our lives. But in this modern world full of constant distractions, where we’re expected to be multi-tasking dynamos taking on a variety of roles every day, exactly how do we put this into practice? Here are some tips you can start with today.

  1. Listen rather than hear. When we are distracted and unfocused, we tend to tune out what we feel isn’t important, and unfortunately, this can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities for connection and learning. The next time you’re in a conversation, fully engage in listening to the other person as though you were listening to your own thoughts. Listen with the intention to understand, and relax the need to respond. You may be surprised at what you hear.  

  2. Look to really see, rather than notice. Take a moment right now to stop reading this and look around you. Look closely with the intention to appreciate your surroundings. Where is there beauty around you that you may usually take for granted? What can you appreciate about where you are?

  3. Engage your empathy. When encountering people during your day, see if you can extend your energy to feel what they’re feeling. If someone is irritating you or acting less than honorably, you may not relate to what they’re doing, but can you relate to the fear or insecurity that may be leading to those actions? How does this empathetic perspective change your reaction to them?

  4. Feel your body’s responses. A “gut feeling” is often literal; you can feel an energetic reaction in your upper abdomen which can be a physical response to your intuition. Do you experience an excited feeling of butterflies, or a slightly queasy feeling, or maybe a heavy, tight feeling? How is your body reading the energy around you? Learning to recognize your physical reactions can help you get in touch with your inner wisdom.

  5. Feel the energy of gratitude. Taking time out of your day to practice gratitude is a great way to bring yourself into your present space. If you’re feeling stressed, scattered or negatively focused, take a few moments to name (and perhaps write down) 10 things you’re grateful for. Gratitude helps you make peace with where you are in the present moment, which allows you to more easily move forward.

  6. Leave space between what you think and what you say. Pause before you speak. Allow a few breaths between your initial reaction and your spoken words, or your email or text. Back up a bit from the situation and consider whether your emotions need to settle a bit before you respond or if it’s really in anyone’s best interest for you to assert your opinion in that moment. Connect with your heart and ensure that your words resonate with what you’re truly feeling in that moment, and not how you’re emotionally responding.

  7. Honor your need to withdraw and go within. Even the most extroverted people need time to rejuvenate, recharge and reflect. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and energetically drained, it’s more difficult to stay present. Be sure to honor those feelings with some quiet time. Nurturing and caring for your own energy is an important way to ensure you’re maintaining needed balance in your life.

  8. Pull your energy into your heart when you begin to judge. Judgment comes from the overprotective ego which thrives on illusion. The heart knows the truth, that we are all connected on a soul level; you can disagree with someone’s actions but still acknowledge your connection. Listening to the heart’s wisdom brings you fully present and allows you to transcend judgment.

  9. When challenged, ask what gift of learning is being offered. Remember that all challenges offer us the opportunity to grow and evolve. While it’s sometimes difficult to see these opportunities when we are in the midst of the challenge, it can help to acknowledge that moving through difficult energy instead of avoiding it will allow you to get a better perspective. Always look for the gift.

  10. Cultivate focus, attention and intention. These three practices can develop, enhance and bring a greater awareness of your intuition and connection to your higher self. Practice heightened focus on all your tasks, direct your full attention to whatever you’re doing in the moment, and set clear intentions for the road ahead.

Adding these practices to your daily life can help you gather your scattered energy and feel calmer, more grounded and less reactive. From that place of peaceful awareness, you’ll find yourself truly appreciating and fully experiencing all the riches your life has to offer!