Week 5: Being Present Is Everything

In the game of football, you’re always preparing for the next play or the next win. There’s always an end goal, some sort of gain to make. I was living a life of constant pushing and striving toward something. So when my injuries ended my career, the stark reality of ‘what now?’ became something I just couldn’t ignore.

As we explore the power of being present together, I’d like for you to consider this quote from Buddha: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

To some people, the present moment doesn’t actually exist because they’re caught up in the previous or next moments. We tend to fixate on the past or busy ourselves making plans for the future. But why do we let the past or future hold more importance than the immediate reality of our lives? Being conscious about the current moment means you experience it more fully, which helps you escape stressful thoughts about time and plans and old memories.

What we fail to recognize is that the future moment we so desperately want to get to doesn’t actually exist, except in our thoughts. On top of that, we cannot change what’s already happened.

Only the present exists. Anything else is just a concept.

I know, this may sound like a lot to take in, but being present is fully possible: Right now, I’d like for you to just be present in ALL of the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of this current moment. Do not categorize anything as good or bad. Just be here, now.

As you meet the current moment, simply breathe. It is okay to recognize and experience the complexity of this. If the moment is troublesome, exhale worry and self-doubt, realizing it is passing and fleeting. If what you are feeling is pleasant, then revel in it.

Here are some other easy ways to live in the present:

  1. Start your day with gratitude. List three things (either out loud or in a journal) that you are grateful for having in your life today. This will help your mind focus on positive things, instead of obsessing over the negative stuff.
  2. Pick one thing to do slowly, and immerse yourself in it. It might mean drinking one cup of coffee slowly without doing anything else, listening to one song intently, or taking a short walk after dinner. Try not to multitask while you’re doing these things. Stay in that moment.
  3. Laugh. The best part about laughter is that it brings awareness to something you are observing at that moment. Be vocal about it, and let it flow!
  4. Hit the pause button during your busy day and just breathe. Take a few minutes each day to close your eyes, calm down, and inhale and exhale deeply for 10 counts. It’s a good way to center the mind and shut off the noise. Let time stand still for a bit.
  5. When you’re with other people, look into their eyes. Mindfully listen to what they’re saying. If you’re in a group setting, like an office meeting, take a deep breath and ground yourself in that moment.

Presence can seem like a challenging practice, but its rewards are plenty. As we come to understand that every single moment is just as important as the one before it and the one to come, you will begin to live with more conviction. By being present we take ownership of ourselves and the very space we are in. And the people in our lives will love and appreciate our greater focus and attention.