Resolution with a Purpose - Week 4 - Presence

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If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things-that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it.
-Steve Jobs

After last weeks topic of Sleep, we will continue on with our work on S.P.A.C.E. (Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity, and Eating).

Presence is next. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines presence as "paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."

Mindfulness is another common term used in reference to presence. Some say this term is not accurate, as presence occurs when your mind is empty and not full.

Now we will look further into presence.



 There are moments in our lives when time seems to slow down. When we become more keenly aware of sensory experiences, feelings, and bodily states. To a musician, it's when the notes flow like magic; to a quarterback, it's when a play slows down and the movements of others are clearer and more predictable. This is presence, and it has been found that it can be increased through meditation.

Studies have shown that the regular practice of meditation delivers consistent, positive effects on our physical and mental well-being. Some meditations have been shown to enhance self-transcendence and purpose in life, and even to repair your DNA. Meditation can increase energy and willpower, reduce insomnia, improve diet, and enhance creativity.

"Focused-attention meditation" is as simple as observing your breathing or repeating a simple sound or "mantra." A mantra is a sound or vibration that allows you to enter a state of meditation. You can focus on a word of your choice, like love or calm. Mantras can be repeated regularly to yourself at home, the office, in the car, lobbies, airplanes, seashores, and in many other places. Just pick a space where you won't be interrupted.



Moving and breathing rhythmically is another practice that will improve your presence. Common forms are qigong, tai chi, and yoga. Each of these therapies offer a variety of approaches to meet the needs of all while promoting physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Scientific research has shown truly remarkable outcomes, from reductions in stress and anxiety to improvements in sleep, energy, willpower, and general well-being.

Since the beginning of time, societies around the world have used movement and dance for individual and community healing. Movement and song were used for personal healing, to create community, to ensure successful crops, and to promote fertility. Movement is still an essential part of many healing traditions and practices throughout the world.

Simple Tips for Increasing Your Presence

  • Come back to the moment by focusing on your breath. Inhale over a five-to-seven second period, then exhale in over seven seconds. Start from your abdomen and let your chest fill up with air, like water filling a pitcher. Reverse the process on exhalation. Simple and effective.
  • Our minds are generally in flit mode, rapidly shifting from one focus to another. Take a moment to savor just one thing.
  • Pick a tiny activity you do every day - putting on your shoes, checking the weather, flossing - and let it fill up your whole consciousness. Then let it float away.
  • Got half a minute? Grab it! Use it to center yourself. Those little in-between moments pop up throughout the day like unexpected gifts. Snag a few just for you. Bolster your mental presence with thirty seconds of mindful breathing whenever the opportunity arises.
  • Ever meditate at mealtime? Try this: Before your first bite, clear your mind. Then really savor the experience the way chefs and wine tasters do. Fully engage all your senses - taste, smell, touch, feel, sound - and take note of every detail.
  • Do you normally flop into bed and doze off? Tonight, spend an extra fifteen minutes first, sitting (not lying) comfortably. Slow, deep breaths. Take in the silence, the darkness. Focus on how your body feels. Savor the moment. Let past and future dissolve into nothingness. Then hit the pillow.
  • Go for a walk with no destination, plan or agenda and see where it leads you. Discover someplace new right around the corner.
  • Feeling judgemental? Try a little forgiveness. instead of mentally taking others to task, try stepping into their shoes, their point of view. See if you can discover reasons behind their actions that might give you a deeper understanding of their situation. It's easy to be critical and defensive, but being consistently kind and empathetic is much more certain and direct path to a self-transcending purpose, DNA repair, better health, and better relationships.
  • Here's a weird one. If your mind keeps wandering, pretend for a moment that gravity has just gotten three times stronger. It's literally gluing your shoes to the floor - a perfect opportunity to focus on the here and now. Sometimes getting physically grounded works wonders in focusing your mind as well. Give it a try.
  • Finding something (or someone) to blame is easy. They're everywhere, right? To change things up, try looking for reasons to be grateful instead. Take a moment, right now, and compose a brief "mental thank-you note: to a friend, co-worker, electrician - whatever - who makes your life a little better. Got time? Send a real one right now.
  • Poets and philosophers point out that we can't live in the past or the future. The present is all we ever have. For many, the past can be about revisiting regrets and the future just one big, scary unknown - or pipe dream. Why not revel in all the actual possibilities that exist in the present moment?
  • You know that delicious moment just before sleeping or waking when kooky, random thoughts and images come swooping in? See if you can recapture that sense while you're awake. Take ten slow breaths, let go of all intention, then throw open your mind to anything that occurs to you.
  • Walk like you mean it. Not fast, not slow, but steady and straight. Feel the ground under your fee. Listen to the rhythm of your steps, and pay attention to how it interacts with the rhythm of your breath. Enjoy being in motion.
  • Take an analog holiday from your digial life - a "screen fast" - once in a while, maybe even once a day.
  • Athletes train by lifting weights, musicians by playing scales. Train your mind to be in the moment. Increase your presence by conscious observation. Spend a solid minute studying the simplest object at hand - a golf ball, a carrot, your left thumb - and describe every single detail that you can think of, without judgment.