Have you ever been trying to tell someone something important and they were so busy on their phone that they did not hear a word you said? Have you ever felt like your kids are so plugged in that they are experiencing virtual life and not real life? Do you ever find yourself wasting hours on end doing things online that leave you feeling empty?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you may benefit from learning how to give the gift of “presence” and through modeling this quality in your closest relationships you may even receive “presence” yourself.
3 Things You Can Do to Be More Present
- Come Back To Your Senses: Try to notice when your awareness is in the future and in the past. Our bodies’ respond similarly to perceived threats and actual threats, which means that if we spend a lot of time thinking about the negatives and worries of the future and past situations that we experience a lot of unnecessary anxiety in our bodies. When you find yourself storytelling about the past and future, without judging yourself harshly just gently re-direct your awareness by saying something to yourself like, “I noticed that my mind was wondering to my worst fears about my future, but right here, right now, all I have to do is drive my car.” In that moment you can shift your energy from future catastrophe to noticing signals on the road, appreciating the beauty of the landscape, and feeling your sit-bones connected to the driver’s seat.
- Unplug: Be honest about how much time you spend being engaged by TV, movies, Internet, video games, or phone activity. Recognize parts of your life that you cannot negotiate (e.g. for work) versus the ones that are negotiable (e.g. entertainment, screen time). Choose to conscientiously eliminate or put a specific limit on the amount of time you are willing to spend being entertained and then honor your commitment to yourself.
- Be With: You will find as you do the first two invitations that you have more time to be with yourself and to be with the people that you care most about. When you are “being with” someone you are open and receptive, you are inwardly connected to their experiences, and you demonstrate your connection through words, non-verbal cues, interactions, and feelings. You will choose to do things together that require active participation and make special memories.