Time may fly, but being present in every moment can slow down that seemingly endless rush of time. Our fast paced world can make being present seem impossible, but actually it’s not so hard. Here are 5 steps to being present.
Shallow breathing is unaware breathing, the result of being in a hurry. Take the time to inhale slowly, fill your lungs, feel your abdomen expand and then let the breath out slowly. All of us can benefit from engaging in this activity several times a day and once that becomes a habit, you may just find yourself breathing slower and fuller on a regular basis. Meditation is a great way to slow down your breathing and can take just ten minutes a day for a calmer, more at peace you!
Seems simple, right? Think about it though, how often do you really look around you and notice the beauty or simplicity or color or vistas? Again, that hurry up feeling we all pander to often keeps us from really noticing anything. I had a friend once tell me that I noticed things other people did not, something I had never realized, but after she said that I thought about how I have always been an observer, even as a child; however, for a lot of people, their surroundings are just a blur. I have a favorite restaurant here in Lyon, and part of the reason I love it, besides the food, is the details in the decor. Lots of detail and I find myself wandering through the dining room slowly, soaking in the colors, the objects d’art, the gold fish in the bathtub, oh yes, and it amazes me that one of my friends never even saw them, right by the WC. So slow down, my friends, and soak in what you see. You might just find goldfish.
Listening is actually a skill you can develop. Believe me, I know, I took a whole semester class on listening for my minor in communications. So there are 2 steps to listening: first, listening, really listening, to what others say to you is important. We all want to be validated and we don’t feel that way if someone we are conversing with is not listening (i.e. checking their phone every other second) or doesn’t respond to what we say, but just starts talking about themselves. Concentrate on what others say to you and respond accordingly. Second, listen to the sounds around you. Some sounds are distracting and we want to shut them out, no doubt, but when you take a moment to listen, you might just hear the sound of a bird, or two, or three; or you might hear music drifting from an apartment; or someone playing an instrument on the street; or even just the breeze in a tree. If like me, you have tinnitus, hearing the sounds around you instead of the constant one in your ear, can be such a pleasure that you want to just stop and concentrate on the beauty of it. Listening right now to the birds outside our window. Lovely.
I love the feel of soft fabrics. I love to run my fingers over velvet or a soft rayon t-shirt. I love the feel of grass under my feet, something most of us experience far too little of as adults. I like to pick up rocks when I hike and feel the texture. I love the feel of my husband’s touch and to really enjoy a kiss. And I love the touch of a grandchild’s hand on my face. My Emma, who happens to be a lot like her gramma, when she was little would put her hand on my face and turn my head to see what she wanted me to see. Bliss. I could go on and on about all we can take the time to touch and really notice how it feels, but I think you get my drift here.
Ah, food. The taste of food. Something we have really lost touch with in the USA, though I would like to believe the Slow Food Movement is helping to return a sense of the importance of enjoying real food, we are still a fast food nation seeking cheap, fast, easy and fake food to fill us up. Food has become such a political issue and so personal, that it’s hard as a Certified Integrative Health Coach to really address the issue. What I want to encourage you with today though, is to stop and enjoy whatever you put in your mouth. Stop eating mindlessly. Slow down. TASTE what you eat and notice the texture, the taste, the feel of the food. One of the things I have enjoyed the most about France is that meals are eaten slowly and over a long period of time giving you and your companions time to enjoy the moment, the food and each other. Our British friends, who came to see us when we first arrived, told us they are so puzzled when they go out to eat in the USA. Everything with your meal comes at one time and you eat and leave. They asked us, what do you do when you go home? Why don’t people slow down and enjoy? We explained to them that it’s all about turning tables in the USA and that most people rush home to watch television. Sad, but true. And yes, I know, there are lots and lots of underlying factors at play in the good ole USA, but I will always hope to see us change.
So that is the 5 steps to being present. Exploring, exploiting, and enjoying, everything about our senses will allow us to be present and being present actually can slow down time because life is in the details. It really is.
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