Being Present – How it can help

I am doing something different today, I’m shelving my book reviews for a day, I’ve stopped reading for a few hours and I’m trying not to think of Colin Firth’s immense twelve-foot statue, white shirt and all, being unveiled on a lake at Hyde Park – slightly creepy if you ask me, I adore the man, the statue however is er, slightly strange, not to mention all the pigeons flitting about, sitting on his head- how rude and er, dropping stuff all over him ( a post calls out to me, with a photo of a wet shirt  * dragging myself away from photo*, this is more important) instead, I’ve decided to go back to my roots as Meditating Mummy.

It is three years since I began blogging – I received a little celebratory cup or was it a goblet – it looked sparkly. I may have to have some chocolate, um, I’m feeling very clever using chocolate to celebrate.

So, here’s the thing,  I’ve been focused on my thoughts these last few weeks. That’s a lot of thinking. Erm, yes it is.

I need to nibble on more chocolate… mmm!

When my mind travels this way, I have to reign it in. So I decided to write about something that matters to me. I try it every day, I fail miserably and yet, I  persist. When it works, It keeps me sane. When life becomes too hectic, too sad, too mean and so encompassing,  I lose a little of my equilibrium.

Wait! I just used the word equilibrium – I’m having a moment, it is exactly what I wanted to say about being off-balance. Do you feel like it sometimes?  slightly off kilter, a little shift in energy perhaps. That’s how it is for me.

This post is about being present and how it can help with those shifts in balance. It begins with the mind. I have long believed in the power of the human mind. I think the mind is a brilliant artist. It paints so many pictures, it is utterly convincing and we tend to believe. Everything. Firstly being positive, every single day, or even latching on to a tiny speck of something positive, can greatly influence the mind, its travels and the way the body functions. Negativity can shift the balance. Not always easy to be positive when life happens. The mind is typically an escape artist. Sort of like a monkey. It steals away, jumping from one thing to another, an endless list of to-dos, worries and anxieties. It is sometimes impossible to keep the mind still. To be present for one minute. Energy is constantly shifting and the mind can go from positive to negative in an instant.  For me, there are days when being present is completely elusive.  I go from A to B, I get everything done, I’ve been busy and efficient, clearly, but have I been in the moment every single time? no probably not. Just for an instant, perhaps.

When I work at being present, here’s how it goes for me. I try to practice it in all aspects of life. When I’m happy – yes! dark and slightly bitter chocolate, happy. Dancing to music with my children  and blowing bubbles outdoors happy, or listening to Verdi’s La Traviata, imagining I am in Italy, cooking, happy – well, um, that’s not being present, although you could count it as being in a moment. Oooh clever mind, making it into a moment. Reading a book that has made me so excited, happy.  I’m present, but then, I can hardly sleep at night for I might forget the characters who have made me feel creative all of a sudden, particularly at midnight. It feels like I could finally write that book I’ve been planning to, for years – clearly my mind is traveling. I am not present with sleep, so I focus on the creativity, think about characters and a title, that helps, then I fall asleep.When a movie has made me cry, then laugh – happy, and I fast- forward certain bits to re-live the most heart stirring of scenes.

Or, and it is a big “or”… when I am sad, sad for parents, family and dear friends  dealing with pain, fear, insurmountable grief, the unknown. When I’m anxious. Particularly when I’m anxious…Well, er, I said I fail miserably at trying to be present, but I don’t find it a waste of time.  I try everyday, it works. How does it help though? it helps me focus on one thing at a time. It is a reminder to stop, breathe, listen. I  pull back from my thoughts… sometimes It is about what to make for dinner and where I need to be and um, why my sweet bell pepper plants are slowly chewed up by a nightly visitor I cannot name at this point, and which activity should come first after the break and those darned school supply lists… yes! I’m already working on it. We go back to school in two weeks. I pull back … one at a time, herding all those chaotic thoughts out. I take items off my mental ‘to-do list and replace it with focus. Focus on what I am doing right at that moment. Only that. If I am chopping, I note that I am chopping and stay with it. If I am interrupted, I go with it, only that. I don’t change, I don’t escape, I just stay. It gets easier and then it disappears, so you bring the mind back to a point of focus. You drop the past, you don’t think of what will be, i.e. the future, you just stay. You lose the worry, you focus on what is happening in the moment. If you are anxious or in pain or feel sad, you stay with it. Sometimes when we have doctor visits i.e. allergy testing ( this last week), I talk my daughter into staying with it, not watching the scraping of the skin per se, just staying with the process.  When hives appear and the skin becomes really itchy, she wants to claw at it. I asked her if she could watch how the skin reacted instead.  We’ve been doing testing for years, being present works sometimes,  and other times, it doesn’t. She is older, so it was a better experience this time.

My journey is such that, when I am present, I try not to go anywhere( not literally, just mentally) I don’t dwell on the past, I don’t know the future, I try to accept what is, now. I’ve discovered that is the key to reducing my stress, my anxieties, my fears. It is always a work in progress because I’m constantly pulled towards what I did yesterday and what I need to do tomorrow, but not what I need to do right now. I am holding on to being present, as I write, for being present a few minutes everyday can help with energy, balance and strength.

So tell me,  how does being present help you? if not, what  holds your balance, your center?

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8 thoughts on “Being Present – How it can help

  1. Firstly – Happy 3rd Anniversary! Woot Woot

    As for the living in the moment…in the now. That is hard…I try at times too. But you make a more concerted effort for sure on concentrating on now…on what is happening. I do not think I have ever truly tried that. Not consciously anyway. I can see how it might lower stress. Task at hand … no external worries nod nods.

    *smiles* … though…*whispers evilly* … what if you were chopping … and Mr. Firth were sitting on the other side of the table watching you. *grins* Bad Katie…bad….bad….

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    • Awww, thank you Katie, you know though, being present is the hardest thing ever. You should see my mind, I can literally watch it jump. Sigh. I do practice though.

      It helps to nibble on chocolate and think about wet shirts.. that, is soooo distracting. Not.
      Ooooh stop it… chopping with Mr Firth sitting on other side of the table…. noooo, I would not be present, I couldn’t chop, I may even hurt my finger … ouch! ouch!… bad Katie… very bad…hugging you though..

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      • Ok….no white shirt man sitting in front of you. Does not want you nicking yourself.

        *tells him he has to stand behind you … and peer over your shoulder and watch* … nod nods.

        I wonder if he smells nice? Hmm…maybe the choco aromas might overpower things though. *grins*

        But seriously … the in the moment thing … I think I will try that some time…hmmm…the bizarre thing is…now I am wanting something stressful to happen (not super stress though…mini stress)…so I can see if it calms me.

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      • Ooooh yes! Yes! I like that, white shirted man peering over my shoulder, just speaking to me. I bet he smells nice. Something Italian no doubt,or terribly English… A very subtle cologne, picked by his gorgeous wife. Not over the top… Have I thought about it or what…

        Nooooo, no big stresses for you, not even teeny, tiny ones.

        I tried it just a few hours ago when I went to the dentist. My teeth are well.. All sparkly now.. But the cleaning was painful, I’ve hurt my neck from sleeping poorly and everything was affected today, including my teeth cleaning. I just stayed with the pain… It sort of goes away and is not as heightened as when you don’t pay too much attention to it. Weird or what?

        Going to email you now because I wanted to check in…

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  2. MM, congratulations my dear friend for three years. You started a month before me! In August I’ll be celebrating 3. Time flies! And speaking of time, yes, be in the moment because life is too short. Enjoy the now because your children will be grown and out of the house soon enough. So treasure these moments, holding on to them as long as you can.

    I had no idea about the statue and am now intrigued. Do you have a link for this or should I google it?

    I am so happy to count you as one of my dear blogging friends. You are a treasure and help make my life complete. Thank you so much, MM!

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    • Thank you Monica, you are such a good friend to me. A part of my blogging family. I learn a lot from you, reading about your children and your experiences. More than anything, though, I will always treasure your unwavering support of me, my writing, our shared love for Mr Firth, travel, photos.. we really do have a lot in common. I adore you, Henry and Oliver as well.

      I will e mail you the link to the statue… I have to post about it. It looks a bit ridiculous. I prefer the Madame Tussaud’s statue in a tux 🙂

      See, you know exactly what I’m talking about.. life is so so short. I let it all go by sometimes because we are so busy, but I don’t want to. I make sure we spend time together, make every moment count. I can’t imagine them leaving home.. sigh.
      Hugging you

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  3. Happy bloggoversary my dear!! Wow, three years!!!
    This being present thing is so hard… I used to dwell on the past a lot, but I have managed to cut that down a bit, I worry about the future all the time, especially when it concerns my children, I try to be more in the present but it doesn’t work all the time. My blog helps me a lot, I just wish I had more time… Thanks for reminding me!! xxx

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    • Hi Tatu, how are you? I’m finally getting to reply you.
      Thank you my dear, I can’t believe it has been three years.
      Do you know what my problem is? I think too much about the future. Yet I have no control over it. I worry endlessly about schools and college, health and growing up. It is almost always about the girls, their futures and if they will be okay. Sigh. When will we stop worrying. The past is not so hard when I tell myself I can’t undo or redo, sometimes I do go back and think of a trip, it makes me happy but still, it is hard to stop.
      You are lovely
      xxxx

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