What Does Being Present Really Mean?

Posted May 22, 2013 by Rebecca Niziol in On the Ladder
be present

Sitting at her desk, Jill stared off into the clouds thinking about how much she wanted to go out for a run. Out for her evening run, she couldn’t help but think about all the laundry waiting for her at home that she’d been putting off. Doing laundry, she kicked herself because she could be out having a nice dinner with friends, and instead she’s home cleaning. Later out for a drink, her mind drifts off to the big presentation she’s got the next day.  And so the cycle goes.

Sound familiar?

If you’re having trouble being present, you’re not alone. Remember when life was simple? You might have to think back to when you were about nine years old. Popsicles and swimming pools were what you were focused on. Living in the moment wasn’t even a question; it was how you naturally went about your days. Fast forward to now: a complex life, full schedule, major responsibility, and lots of overwhelm.

It’s becoming harder and harder to be fully present in what we are doing in any one moment, because we have so many things vying for our attention. We are thinking about all the other things that we have to do, want to do, or should be doing. A simple life has been replaced by a busy one.

A hunger for success and achievement is driving this life style and it’s jeopardizing our peace of mind and focus.

When your mind is off daydreaming about something else you could be doing, you are not present. Your body might be there, but your mind and heart are somewhere else. It’s impossible to make the impact you want, or fully experience something if you aren’t even there.

Are you having trouble getting things completed?
Are you struggling to come up with solutions or new ideas?
Are you exhausted and simultaneously unfulfilled?

You might be struggling with being fully present.

The present is the magical moment that is unfolding right now. It’s not the second before, or the minute after. Being present is being fully engaged, involved, and attentive to what is happening with your body, mind, and heart. It is participating, observing, and sensing simultaneously. It fuels productivity and fulfillment.

One of the easiest ways to be present and gather your focus is to do a quick centering exercise whenever you need to get back to what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if you’re working, working out, or working on your beach body… centering, or meditation, can simply and easily bring your awareness and attention back to the moment. This allows you to show up more fully – meaning you are being your best, not that worried half-focused version of you.

When you’re present you get more done, have more fun, and experience less stress and worry.

Practice these 5 steps to bring yourself into the present moment. With more experience and mastery you can do this in as little as 10 seconds.

  1. Heighten your awareness. Start to notice when you aren’t being present, but remove any judgment or guilt around that realization. With practice you’ll get quicker at catching yourself mentally or energetically drifting off.
  2. Put the past and future aside. Stop thinking about what happened earlier and let go of the need to plan out the future. Those things will be there for you to return to later if you’d like. Repeat this phrase to yourself: “Be here now.”
  3. Stop and breathe. Still your body, and focusing on nothing but your breath for a moment. See how long you can make your inhale and exhale. As you slow your breath more oxygen enters your body, making you more calm and alert.
  4. Gather your focus. Close your eyes and imagine you have a magnet in the center of your body. Imagine pulling all of your energy and attention back towards your core. As you do this exercise feel yourself becoming more powerful.
  5. Direct and go. Decide where you want your attention to go, and intentionally send it there. This will energize whatever you are doing in that moment, and allow you to engage fully.

Remember being present isn’t just something to apply to getting more work done, although it certainly helps! Be present while you’re taking care of yourself. Be present to being in love. Be present to making an impact in your community. Be present to how amazing you really are.

About the Author

Rebecca Niziol

Rebecca Niziol, ELI-MP, is many things: a life coach, yoga teacher, dancer, event planner, connection catalyst, and your new best friend. Her mission is to empower others to live the authentic life of their dreams. After years of traveling North America and Europe, she is happy to have found a home and community in Chicago.