4 ways to give yourself the present of presence
I received a wave of messages after I shared this post about what I’ve learned fishing with my son Justus. “Being present is better than being patient” struck a chord, and I was inspired by the struggles and success stories of other people striving to be more firmly anchored in the here and now.
Soon afterward, I read this Anna Quindlen essay and was reminded yet again how slippery the present moment can be, sliding out and away from the periphery of our memories. This section was a particularly bittersweet since my daughter Schuyler’s high school graduation was approaching:
. . . I did not live in the moment enough.
This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
I hear you, Anna.
I thought I’d share four tools I practice (and practice and practice) to keep me from lingering on Memory Lane or accelerating toward what’s next. I hope they help you give yourself the present of presence:
1. Turn on your senses.
2. Savor simple pleasures.
Change the landscape of your day — make it feel more spacious and filled with possibilities — by paying attention to simple pleasures that bring you jolts of joy.
3. Drop anchor.
Have a go-to anchor phrase or image that grounds you when you realize you’re drifting. Maybe it’s as basic as whispering (or thinking) “I am here.” You may want to try breathing deeply with your eyes closed or taking a “sensory snapshot” of the moment with your mind and then imagine yourself stepping back into it.
4. Get your gratitude on.
Gratitude grounds us. We have to be present when we’re giving thanks. If you’re feeling disconnected or distracted, think of something you appreciate about that moment and let it reel you back into the now.