What Does Being Present Really Mean, and Why Does it Matter?

A Paradoxical Skill for Life

Just want the world to READ.

Have you ever thought about what it really means to be present? I mean really present. Present to yourself, to those that surround you, and to all that is around you? Hm.

For a long time, being present wasn’t something that was, well, present for me. Not so today. Being present is something that I am always present to; does that sound funny? Well, it is true.

And, yep, being present is a paradox, like most things in life. Meaning? Good question.

Meaning that being present is actually quite simple, and, yet, many people find it difficult. Why? Well, people are often focused on two other things. What two? Yep. Here you go.

  1. The Past – when you are focused on yesterday, you cannot be present today, in this moment.
  2. The Future – similarly, when you are focused on tomorrow, you cannot be present today, in this moment.

Hm. What to do?

Well, there are four strategies that I’ve found over the past three years that have increased my ability to let go of yesterday and tomorrow, and be present today. Yep. What are they?

Ready? Here we go.

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Meditation

In the post, Creating a Meditation Practice: 3 Steps in 4 Minutes, I write about three simple steps you can institute to develop a meditation practice.

Meditation is and has been an experience that, well, quite frankly, has transformed my life. How? Yep. Here are three ways.

  1. Increased focus – the focus you develop in meditation, focusing on the breath, or some other object, carries out to every area of your life.
  2. Developed patience – sitting for any duration of time, free of people and distractions, can be difficult, thus, doing so, greatly develops your ability to be patient. Both with yourself, and, of course, with others.
  3. Greater presence – when you sit in deep concentration, you also get to know your own mind much better. Meaning, that you can see your mind as your awareness grows. And, with a more expansive awareness comes an ability to shift your attention from yesterday and tomorrow to today.

When we intentionally create quiet time for ourselves, to be with ourselves, away from all people and distractions, we are able to breathe, reflect, and just be.

It takes time and assistance to develop a meditation practice. I mean to really develop a practice that is sustainable.

Meaning, learning from someone that has been schooled in the art of meditation is helpful. I still see someone regularly about my meditation practice, and, well, as I’ve written before, about all of life.

Remember, it takes time to develop a meditation practice. Example? Sure, here you go.

My initial meditation practice, what I then called breathing, was only once or twice a day for 2 to 5 minutes at a time. I could literally only sit still for that long. Yep. Today? Well, today, my meditation practice is much longer.

It just takes a dedication to practice. Practice daily, get some coaching, and it will come. Really, it will.

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Diet

Someone once told me, we are what we put into our bodies. I know, I know. A very common saying, and you’re right. Yet, it is also very true.

I spent a lot of years putting very unhealthy things into my body, yet have learned the truth of the aforementioned statement.

It’s really about energy and clarity. When you eat more whole foods and put less refined sugars into your body, you do have more energy, and equally more clarity.

What does that look like? Well, there are countless iterations of healthy diets. Really. What does mine look like today? Sure. It’s pretty simple.

  1. Fruits and veggies
  2. Beans, nuts, and some grains
  3. Greens

That’s basically it. Now, there are other things I do eat, for instance, I removed dairy from my diet about a year ago, so I now eat a dairyless oatmeal yogurt product. However, the core of my diet is listed above.

Now, also know that diets iterate. For instance, though at the moment, I’m not eating eggs, for example, eggs have been in and out of my diet several times in the past three years. Yep.

And?

Well, when you combine eating healthier with meditation, guess what? Your ability to be present also increases. And, there is another benefit. What, you ask? Yep.

Clarity. With a healthier diet and regular quiet time for ourselves comes more clarity. Fun.

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Exercise

This is a fun one, as there are two ways I think about exercise today. Ready? Here we go.

  1. Cardio and exercising to exercise – sounds funny, maybe? Well, what I mean is exercise, such as running, jogging, or hiking, lifting weights, if you like, and biking.
  2. Contemplative exercise – yep, really. What I mean here is taking a walk, by yourself, no headphones, phones, or other distractions, and just walk. Just like that. Contemplation time, just for you.

Both are important. Why?

Well, being active, and in motion, is good for the body and mind. It gets all of your muscles and joints moving, and gets your heart rate up.

And, spending time with yourself on a walk, for instance, is very healthy for your mind, and yes, your body too.

We all need time by ourselves, to contemplate, to just be present to all that’s around us, free of the myriad of distractions that typically hold our attention. Very helpful.

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Emotions

Okay, this is a very important one for me today, and, well, it is also important for you, and for everyone.

When we spend time inquiring into why we feel the way we do, we gain insight on what’s happening with ourselves, yes, true, and we also gain a better sense of our own humanity, and our shared humanity. Truth.

When we ignore our emotions, regardless of the type, guess what? They just sit under the surface, and sort of fester, if you will.

They don’t just go away, especially those emotions we would associate with “negative” experiences, thoughts, or feelings, such as sadness, worry, or anxiety. Yep.

Spending time writing out how we feel daily, if possible, has been a helpful practice for me. When we do this, we can ask ourselves questions, such as, why did that incident or situation, bother me?

We can then trace it back to where the originally thought, experience, or feeling originated. Takes practice, yet is a super helpful and therapeutic experience. And?

As we work through our emotions, we become lighter. Really. We end up carrying less emotionalness inside of us. And? Yep, we also become more present. True.

Alright, so we’ve covered 4 areas that contribute to our overall well-being, and presence. That was fun.

Here are some closing thoughts to round out our discussion.

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Closing Thoughts

When we

  • Meditate, or create quiet time for ourselves
  • Watch what we eat, reducing our intake of refined sugars and increasing our intake of whole foods
  • Get exercise, including contemplation time
  • Work on our inner-selves and our emotional well-being, well?

We understand ourselves much better. And?

When we understand ourselves better, guess what? We know when we are present, and when we are not; and, when we catch ourselves being distracted, we can let go of that distraction, regardless of what it is, and refocus on the present moment.

After all, it is really only the present moment that we ever have. Yesterday and tomorrow do not exist. Really. And guess what?

The more present you become to yourself, the more present you become to everyone and everything. It works that way; and is presently beautiful that way.

#beingpresent, #developingpresence, #emotionalintelligence, #emotions, #exercise, #healthydiet, #humandevelopment, #meditation, #presenceasaparadox, #psychology, #selfimprovement

The Self-Development Tips Series 1: The Art of Loving Yourself

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I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships this week. In fact, I am always thinking about relationships in some way, as I do believe they are one of the most important things in life. So very important.

Yet, when you think of relationships, what is your first thought?

Is it of yourself, or someone else? Most people will say someone else. Why? Because, I think, we are in many ways programmed to think externally first.

However, it is always, and will forever be, the ways in which we look internally first that we will then be able to turn our gaze outward.

Meaning that how we think about and treat ourselves is exactly how we will think about and treat other people. What to do?

We must learn to take care of ourselves, love ourselves, be good to ourselves, and find ways to make time for ourselves.

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It is very common, however, to think that by taking care of others we are, in effect, taking care of ourselves. Not so. When we “take care” of others at the expense of our own self-care, or at the expense of their own development, we help no one; and, no one grows.

What can we do?

We can begin to develop a healthy relationship with ourselves now. Today.

It is through developing a relationship with ourselves that we can begin to love ourselves for the human beings that we are. And, guess what? As we develop a loving relationship with ourselves, our external relationships will become more stable, and loving.

It is then that everyone in our sphere, starting with ourselves, has the ability to grow and develop. Does this mean that our relationships will be easy? No. It might mean that some of them will be more difficult.

Especially if we have created relationships with people that have superseded our own relationship with ourselves.

However, once we begin to look inward, and make choices about what’s best for ourselves, we can begin to move ourselves forward.

And, create that loving relationship with ourselves that is absolutely necessary and needed in order to have healthy relationships with anyone.

Alright, so how and where do we begin? And, what strategies can you use to get in touch with yourself, and begin to create, develop, and maintain the most important relationship in your life?

Let’s take a look at a few that I use daily.

Quiet Time

Until about three years ago, I was always on the go. Always. I didn’t ever really stop until it was time for bed. And then, I would not sleep well. When I started to incorporate quiet time into my day, I immediately noticed the health benefits.

If quiet time was so beneficial, why didn’t you incorporate it into your life earlier?

Because I didn’t know how. When you live one way, that is what you know. Sounds silly. It is, however, very true. Unless someone else shows you another way, you will continue to do things that are not beneficial for you.

All the while, there is another way, you just don’t have access to it yet.

If you are always running, I suggest building in quiet time into your day. How? Any way you can. Know that when I write quiet time, I mean any time you can get away from technology and other people.

As much as I love people, and all of my relationships, as I’m sure you also do, we all need a break from the constant stimulation. Needed.

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Journaling and Writing

Journaling and writing are also helpful. As I’ve written in other posts, I’ve been writing for some time, however, I only began to write introspectively these past couple of years.

Writing about how you are feeling, what your hopes and dreams are, and how you intend to achieve them is a totally different type of writing.

When we write as a way to understand ourselves better, we open up the possibility of actually getting to know ourselves better. And, to have a quality relationship with ourselves, and everyone else, we must know who we are. Very important.

When we get to know ourselves, really know ourselves, diving deep into why we feel as we do, and getting clearer on the things that have happened in our past, which we are still holding onto, we can begin to heal.

And, it is inside of this healing where our deepest and most profound transformation can occur. Learning to love the person we were, are, and will be. Special.

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Meditation

I’ve written about my meditation practice in several posts now, and, indeed, on this topic it is no different. The health benefits I’ve experienced from learning how to mediate, and to incorporate meditation into my daily routine have been, and are, profound. Why?

Because it is your time. Just for you. A time for introspection, to learn about yourself. What makes you, you, and how your humanness works. When you sit, you get to know more about how your mind and body work, and how they work together.

And, inside of a learning like this, you have more access to understand yourself and all of humanity in a whole new way.

In the article, Creating a Meditation Practice: 3 Steps in 4 Minutes, I write about some simple steps you can take to create a meditation practice. It takes time, dedication, and creating the habit. If you are a beginner, it is also helpful to have someone coach you along the way.

What is most important? Taking the time you need to begin a meditation practice if it is something you’ve been interested in. Why wait?

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Dietary Needs

For the longest time I didn’t focus on my diet. In fact, it was one of those things that bothered me terribly, as I was very overweight, yet, I continued to eat poorly.

Not loving myself for a long time.

It is important to eat well. What we put into our body has direct implications for how our mind and body functions. Really. When I began to focus on my diet, which started slowly, I would take one thing out of my diet at a time that was unhealthy for me. Then, I would take something else out. Takes time.

The amount of clarity you gain by removing foods loaded with artificial ingredients and high levels of sugar is profound. Not something I ever really understood or knew about. It is loving yourself to create a diet that is rich in nutrients.

A high-quality diet will fuel your mind, body, and soul. Believe me.

There are plenty of articles out there about creating a healthy diet, and you can also work on your diet with your doctor. What do I know? That eating more naturally produced foods, vegetables, beans, fruits, and nuts has been very beneficial for me.

My diet has been totally plant-based for almost a year now, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, except, the change that comes from continuing to learn about new ways to purchase and prepare new foods.

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Exercise

I’ve always believed in exercise, and through most of my life have enjoyed walking. However, I never really developed a healthy exercise habit until about 2 years ago. Exercise is important. We all need it.

Further, exercise also gives you time for yourself. Time to explore your own needs when it comes to being with your body. You can develop a healthy exercise habit or routine by simply creating the space in your day to do so.

I know. It sounds easy, and yet it can be difficult. Understood. Many people ask or wonder about how to develop the motivation to keep up a regular exercise routine. In the article, Motivation: Is it an inside or outside job?, I write about the fact that motivation comes from within.

Motivation comes from the doing of that which you want to do regularly. Simple. People often say they aren’t motivated, so they can’t get to the gym, or that they are too busy, so there is not time to go for a walk. Normal.

However, the only way to become motivated is to actually go to the gym, or make the space in your day for a walk. That’s it. And, after you’ve done so, and continue to do so, in time, you will find your motivation.

You will also have developed another healthy habit, and routine. Loving yourself.

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Sleep Well

Sleep is so important, yet in the United States in particular, we often disregard our sleep in favor of other activities. Though I sleep better than ever before, I still struggle in this area.

It’s like that though. You develop yourself, loving yourself, a little at a time. You learn, you create new habits, some old habits hang around longer than others, then they also eventually go away. All the while I am inviting you to persist.

Persist in loving yourself, and allowing yourself the time needed to recuperate from your day. So very important. When we do not give ourselves that time, we will not be our best the next day. It’s just not possible to be your best when you are tired.

Believe me, I know. I spent many years sleeping poorly. Staying up very late, drinking too much, and sleeping, well, like you would imagine. Not well.

And, like the rest of this article, it takes creating the healthy habit of loving yourself enough to ensure that you get the rest you need.

When you are fully rested, you have the opportunity to be your best the next day. For yourself, first, and then for all of those around you.

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Alright, there we have it. There are 6 different tips that when worked on, over time, can bring you more time, energy, rest, peace, and overall well being.

And, inside of increasing our overall well being, we are practicing the art of loving ourselves.

For, it is inside of the love that we show to ourselves first, that we can really begin to love other people. When we don’t show ourselves the love we deserve, by taking care of ourselves, we cannot really love other people. Not really.

Loving starts with the love you show yourself. Show yourself love today, then, by taking up a healthy habit you’ve been avoiding or putting off.

It takes creating the time, and taking action. Remember, developing your new healthy habit will take time. Yet, I am inviting you to persist in your quest to develop your healthy habit. Why?

Because you are worth it. Learning to love yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. And, it is also one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other, and all of humanity.

#exercise, #healthy-diet, #healthy-habits, #journaling, #loving-yourself, #meditation, #motivation, #personal-development, #quiet-time, #relationships, #self-development, #sleep, #well-being, #writing