Mindfully Present

Posted: 2 Oct 2012 | coaching, mindfulness, present, mindful, motivation, now











Recently, I was involved in a car accident. I drove into the back of a Sedan, while I was executing a left turn, listening to an audio program, and reflecting on two other thoughts in my mind. Although this accident resulted in financial loss, it did generate new focus on the idea of being aware, and being mindfully present.

Now why did I not stop in time to avoid the accident? Well frankly, because I had a belief I am able to multi-task, all the time, and the part of my brain that was responsible for automatic processes took over. I'm sure you would agree with me that automatic breathing is not in the same category as automatic driving in terms of risk. Have you had occasions where you did the same? You started at a place, and ended up at your destination with no recollection of how you got there, and what you saw on the way?

In our high speed, high productivity society, we are so connected to the digital network that our minds are perhaps still struggling to keep up. It is said that if the microwaves don't kill us, something else probably will, eventually. The question then is, what's important?

There is a saying that "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present." Gurdjieff and other spiritual teachers have long asserted that the normal state of consciousness that we function in is a kind of 'sleep', and is far from the level of waking consciousness that we are capable of.

What then, can we do to become more aware, and more present?

1. Deep breathing Direct your breath consciously deep into your body, all the way into your diaphragm, and slowly exhale through your nose. Notice how the air feels as it enters your nose, and the path the breath takes within your body.

2. Conscious awareness When you mind is distracted by mulitiple activities or thoughts, you may not be conscious of how your body is feeling. As you become aware of your inner state, notice how the clothes you are wearing feel against your skin, how does it feel, are you warm, is there any sensations in your body?

Here's a quick tip: Simply making deliberate effort to notice how your fourth toe of your right feet is feeling, will bring you back to being present.

3. Active listening Listening actively is a useful skill. You become more aware of not just the words being communicated, but also the emotions the words carry, the speed and pace of speech, facial expression, the rate of breath of the speaker, is he or she looking at you or at a distance? If it is appropriate, share what you notice. Often, you will see a flicker of surprise and delight on the face of your companion. There is nothing in the world like the feeling of being totally heard and listened to.

4. Fully associated When training to be a coach, I was often reminded to be "in my body". In a nutshell, it means focusing only on the present moment, the person you are perhaps conversing with, being aware of direct sensations from the environment. It is realising that your thoughts are perspectives and often are constructs, and are not direct experiences.

I wonder what benefits does being present will bring to you? I leave you to experience for yourself. As for me, I'm leaving my mobile phones in my bag, and focusing my attention on the road.

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