How to Be Present

In a world full of distractions, being fully present is not always easy. Our mind can become stuck in the past. I should of…I could have…Perhaps your mind goes back to a particularly difficult experience and the painful emotions that are associated with that time in your life.

Our minds can also race ahead to the future. I need to… What if?… Worries about making the best or “right” decisions to plan and prepare for [and hopefully control] any possible variables that might disrupt the plan.

Bringing you back to the present moment, we cannot go back in time to change events that have already happened or predict the future 100% of the time but we can shift our perspective to become more present in the present-moment.

Two major components of being present involve awareness and mindfulness. To become more present, one learns to develop a conscious awareness of the present moment. Rather than turning to escape or avoidance, one is tuning into their body, noticing the sensations, thoughts, and emotions. We are taking a non-judgmental stance, accepting our experiences for what they are and extending this to others. There is beauty in the humanity that we share during being fully present, especially during times of suffering when extending loving kindness to ourselves and others.

Being present is not a one-time event, but rather an intentional state of being. If can help one feel grounded in the moment, which is so important to help provide an anchor for support.

Here are FIVE Ways to Be More Present:

1) Reduce distractions. Creating space to pause or take a break for yourself can help you be fully present. For many people, the time that is set aside for a weekly therapy session is built into a routine as an intentional, focused time to be present. Practical steps such as turning off the TV or putting down your phone when talking to loved ones show they are important. Don’t be afraid to create space for silence.

2) Listen. Listen to understand and truly empathize with yourself and others.

3) Tune into your body and senses. Take a moment to listen to what your body is telling you. Tuning into your body can help you learn to relax and soothe your body through activities such as breathing, meditation, and mindful movement.

4) Incorporate mindfulness into routine. Try incorporating mindfulness into your daily routines such mindful movement, mindful yoga, even mindful eating and connection.

5) Re-conceptualize change. You may view change as processing the past or future planning. While these both have important roles, changing is happening in the present “here and now”. The past and present can be utilized within journaling and visualization. Practicing gratitude is a great way to reflect in the present as you are implementing change “one day at a time.”

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Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

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