Let’s quickly become present together.
Sitting or standing, feel your feet root into the floor. While inhaling and exhaling, say to yourself, “IN” and “OUT” with the corresponding breath. Become aware of your breath IN. Feel the breath go deep into your diaphragm, allow it to fill you up. Become aware of your breath OUT. Exhale and feel the breath escape. IN…OUT. Relax your shoulders, think of your breathing as the ebb and flow of waves in the ocean. Sense your rhythm, IN and OUT. Now close your eyes or find a soft gaze and keep breathing IN and OUT. Stop whenever you’re ready. Take one last inhale and then release it. How do you feel? Perfect time for a self-check.
For me, this little exercise encapsulates what it is to be present. Everything else fades away but your breath, and you feel a vibration throughout your body, an “oxygen high”. However long you practice is the perfect amount of time. Can you go longer? Sure, but if you want this to become a daily activity, choose a time that you will actually practice. For me, 1-5 minutes can happen anytime/anywhere; on the subway, in the grocery store line, etc.
What are the benefits? I thought you’d never ask! Here are my top three:
1. Food Awareness: Being present while I eat has made me more aware when I am full and has helped me become more in touch with any food sensitivities that I may have (what makes me bloated, what I can’t eat before doing a show).
2. Deeper Breath: As you continue to practice, you realize how shallow your breath can be at times. Shallow breath can actually make you anxious, while deep breathing relaxes your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).
3. Gratitude: When you take these 1 to 5 minute breaks throughout your day, you can reflect on what is truly causing your suffering and also what is bringing you joy.
Being truly present takes practice. Malcolm Gladwell (author of David and Goliath, Outliers, etc.) puts the number of hours to becoming an expert at 10 thousand, and that’s a lot of time practicing being present. The more you are “here and now”, the less you’ll worry about the past and the future, which are exactly that, past and not yet come to pass.
There are so many more ways in which we feel the benefits from being more present. Please feel free to comment and share your own experiences.